Wisdom Teeth or 3rd Molars
WHAT ARE WISDOM TEETH?
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to emerge in a mouth. They typically erupt (emerge) when people are in their late teens or early twenties. Since third molars erupt into the mouth when people are in their late teens or early twenties, the “Age of Wisdom,” they are called wisdom teeth.
WHAT ARE IMPACTED WISDOM TEETH?
In many people, wisdom teeth are unable to grow in normally. The teeth either become stuck under the gum or are only able to partially break through the gum. Dentists call these teeth impacted. Wisdom teeth usually become impacted because the jaw doesn’t have enough space for all the teeth that are growing in, or because the tooth comes in at the wrong angle and bumps into the tooth in front of it.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF IMPACTED WISDOM TEETH?
If your wisdom teeth are causing problems, you may have symptoms such as:
- Pain or jaw stiffness near an impacted tooth.
- Pain or irritation from a tooth coming in at an awkward angle and rubbing against your cheek, tongue, or top or bottom of your mouth.
- An infected swelling in the flap of gum tissue that has formed on top of an impacted tooth that has broken partway through the gum.
- Crowding of other teeth.
- Tooth decay or gum disease if there isn’t enough room to properly clean your wisdom tooth and nearby teeth.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS CAUSED BY IMPACTED WISDOM TEETH?
Damage to other teeth. If the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, it may damage the second molar or increase the risk of infection in that area.
This pressure can also cause problems with crowding of the other teeth or require orthodontic treatment to straighten other teeth.
Gum disease.The difficulty cleaning impacted, partially erupted wisdom teeth increases the risk of developing a painful, inflammatory gum condition called pericoronitis in that area.
Decay. Partially impacted wisdom teeth are at higher risk of tooth decay (caries) than other teeth.
This probably occurs because wisdom teeth are harder to clean and because food and bacteria get easily trapped between the gum and a partially erupted tooth.
Cysts. The wisdom tooth develops in a sac within the jawbone. The sac can fill with fluid, forming a cyst that can damage the jawbone, teeth and nerves.
Rarely, a tumour — usually noncancerous (benign) — develops. This complication may require removal of tissue and bone.
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