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Friday, April 16, 2010

Are Wisdom Teeth Important?


Are Wisdom Teeth Important? Why They May Need To Be Removed

Wisdom teeth are the last molars that erupt through the gums in the back of the jaw. This usually happens around the age of 20, when one acquires some degree of wisdom, and that's why they are named as such. Many times wisdom teeth are removed because the jaw is so crowded they cannot come in straight, or they get impacted.

Impacted wisdom teeth get trapped in the jaw and cannot emerge through the skin. In some cases, there are no symptoms associated with impacted wisdom teeth so there is no need for treatment. Other people have uneventful eruptions and are able to keep their wisdom teeth for life.

As long as the wisdom teeth are healthy, positioned so they can be cleaned properly, and are aligned so no biting problems develop, then removal is not necessary.

However, because of the high percentage of wisdom teeth that need to be removed, some dentists recommend routinely removing wisdom teeth while a child is young and better able to tolerate the surgery.

As the child matures and the teeth become more firmly rooted into the jaw and removal carries a higher risk of complications.

Signs that there are problems with wisdom teeth include jaw swelling, jaw pain, bad breath, gum tenderness, swollen gums, red gums, bad taste when biting down, persistent headache, and persistent jaw ache. Emerging wisdom teeth can even push other teeth out of alignment and change the position of the teeth as well as cause increased sensitivity.

A dentist can determine the condition of wisdom teeth by performing an oral examination and looking at x-rays. He may decide to remove the teeth to treat symptoms and relieve pain or the dentist may want to remove the teeth to prevent future problems.

Complications that could arise from wisdom teeth that are not removed include tooth decay that results from inability to reach all surfaces when brushing, progressive crowding of the other teeth, and gum disease.

Food and germs often get trapped in the area around wisdom teeth and this leads to mild gum disease (gingivitis) or more serious gum disease (periodontitis). In addition to that, cysts may develop inside the jawbone that damage the teeth, bone, and nerves and requires major surgery to correct.

The dentist may choose to take a watchful waiting approach to impacted wisdom teeth if the symptoms are not severe. When pain or complications are present, extraction is usually performed.

This is typically done by an oral surgeon in his dental office but more complicated impactions may require a hospital operating room and the use of general anesthesia. During the surgery, the teeth and roots are removed. In some cases, portions of the jawbone may need to be removed also.

Recovery from surgery is usually uneventful and takes just a few days. Pain medication may be indicated for the first twenty four hours and soft foods should be eaten for several days. Dry socket is a possible complication. This happens when a clot becomes dislodged and the bone is exposed. This is a painful condition and requires follow up care by a dentist.

The wisdom teeth are not essential and removing them does not affect the ability to chew or cause misalignment of the other teeth. Wisdom teeth removal is a fairly common dental procedure that has a low risk of complications.


Charles

3 comments:

bryan flake said...

My son is leaving for a religious mission trip of service for a few years. Our leaders have suggested getting all manner of health check ups and appointments done before he departs overseas. Right now he doesn't have wisdom teeth problems. However, we have heard of people having a rough time dealing with them while on foreign soil.
http://www.collegestation-dentist.com/dental-services/wisdom-teeth

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