Wisdom Teeth

An x-ray of an unerupted wisdom tooth

An x-ray of an unerupted wisdom tooth

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth. Often the rest of the teeth have already taken up the available space in the jaw and the wisdom tooth is left with little or no space at all.

This means the wisdom tooth can erupt partially (part of the tooth outside the gum and the rest covered with the gum) or stay completely covered with bone and gums and is then called impacted wisdom tooth.

People usually have four wisdom teeth, but some people have fewer or none. In rare cases some will have more than four.

Do I need to remove my wisdom tooth?

There are few reasons for a wisdom tooth to be removed. The most common ones are:

  • Pericoronitis: It is when the socket around the wisdom tooth gets infected and inflamed. It becomes swollen, painful and can cause a bad taste.
  • Decay.
  • Abnormal growth of the surrounding tissue like cysts, tumours or other rare conditions.
  • Pain associated with the eruption of the wisdom tooth.
  • Gum disease
  • Lack of space: The wisdom tooth can erupt in an unfavourable angle where teeth are crowded causing irritation to the adjacent oral tissue.

Can my dentist remove wisdom teeth?

Some wisdom teeth are easier to remove than others. The dental surgeon decides whether the case should be treated as a normal extraction, or should be referred to a specialist in Oral Surgery.

Questions

Q: My teeth were straight but now they are getting crowded and uneven in the front. Are my wisdom teeth pushing the other teeth together?

A: No. This happens even if a person does not have wisdom teeth present.

Q: I had a problem with the lower wisdom tooth but my dentist took the upper wisdom tooth out. Why did he do that?

A: In some cases the upper wisdom tooth bites on the gum around the lower tooth causing it to get swollen and painful. The patient experiences the pain in the lower jaw. If the upper wisdom tooth is removed, the cause of the trauma is removed and the pain and the swelling go down.