Wisdom teeth or third molars is the third set of molar teeth (back teeth which help us to chew food) and are the last teeth to erupt in the oral cavity.
This is a set of 4 teeth, one in each corner of the mouth. They are vestigial teeth. Wisdom teeth were of more importance to primitive man who had larger jaws and could accommodate this third set of molars to grind food. As we are evolving, our mouths are becoming smaller and there is no space left for these teeth to erupt. Studies suggest that after some 200 years, third molars / wisdom teeth will not exist on human mouths anymore.
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in the oral cavity. These teeth usually start erupting at 18-22 years of age and the eruption may continue till 25-28 years of age. The eruption pattern and timings are not fixed and may vary from person to person. If there is no space in your mouth these teeth may not erupt at all.
Third molars are slow to erupt and don’t come out in one shot. They will erupt slowly, around 1mm at a time. It erupts at a gap of 4-5 months and then stops for a while again. They may cause pain during the time of eruption. The pain may last for a couple of days.
Wisdom teeth can get infected for the simple reason that they are not brushed properly. The tooth is positioned at the far end of the mouth and hence it becomes difficult for your brush to reach there & efficiently clean the tooth. Wisdom teeth have multiple grooves on them & some of them can run very deep into the tooth. Food lodgement in these grooves is a common problem which will lead to cavities if not cleaned on time.
That does not mean that all wisdom teeth are prone to cavities. Tooth anatomy (shape), position and your mouth opening are three basic factors that will determine the extent to which the wisdom teeth can get infected.
A tooth which is mal-positioned easily get decayed. These teeth will accumulate food around them which can’t be easily cleaned while brushing. As a result, cavity can easily happen.
Such teeth can’t be filled because they have erupted in awkward position. The instruments used for filling the tooth may not reach there (even your brush can’t), even if it does somehow, the dentist may not be able to manage a proper filling (at a proper angulation).
If the decayed wisdom tooth is left behind, the cavity will keep growing in size and will eventually develop pain in that tooth and then the tooth will have to be removed immediately.
Concern arises when due to so much of food lodgement the adjacent tooth becomes prone to cavities. It’s important that mal-positioned impacted tooth should be timely removed before the adjacent tooth is damaged.
A mal-positioned tooth usually is accompanied with food lodgement, which affects the adjacent tooth and causes infection. Many a times the opposing tooth is seen infected too. It is related to the bacterial activity in the adjacent / opposing tooth due to this food lodgement.
In these cases the adjacent teeth may not require extraction but may get decayed ranging from a small cavity to the extent of a root canal. It’s more important for us to save this functional adjacent tooth on time and avoid getting both teeth from getting removed at a later date.
The wisdom tooth extraction may be as simple as any other tooth removal. Or it may require some surgical intervention if it’s only partially erupted. Wisdom tooth removal is a completely safe procedure and performed by trained oral surgeons.
Usually after any tooth removal, there is a set of instructions that your dentist will give you. Kindly follow them as guided, it will help in a quick and proper healing.
Following are the most common instructions you’ll be asked to follow:-
BITE ON THE GAUZE/COTTON PIECE that has been put in your mouth for minimum HALF HOUR.
Slowly remove the cotton with clean hands after 45 minutes and IF THE BLEEDING
PERSISTS, SWALLOW THE BLOOD. If the bleeding is too much or continues for the next half hour or more, speak with your dentist.
DO NOT TOUCH THAT SITE WITH YOUR FINGER OR TONGUE.
DO NOT SPIT FOR THE NEXT 3-4 DAYS.
DO NOT RINSE YOUR MOUTH OR GARGLE FOR THE NEXT 3-4 DAYS.
DO NOT EAT OR BRUSH IN THAT REGION FOR THE NEXT 1 WEEK.
DO NOT USE STRAW TO DRINK ANY LIQUIDS FOR 1 WEEK.
DO NOT EAT HOT OR SPICY FOODS FOR 1 WEEK.
DO NOT SMOKE FOR 3 WEEKS.
DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL FOR 3 WEEKS.
In case of pain, have a word with your dentist and if required you can take pain killers. Antibiotics should be taken only on advice of the doctor.
KEY POINTS / IMPORTANT NOTES:
Before undergoing any surgical / dental procedure, please discuss your medical history with your doctor. You may feel that your medical condition may be small but for your dentist it may hold a lot of importance. Many anaesthetics / antibiotics / pain killers are avoided in some conditions.
Diabetics, BP patients, Asthmatics, Allergic to medicines, steroid use, Thyroid patients, Epileptic patients, Anaemic patients, Cancer patients, Tuberculosis patients, Heart patients, Kidney patients, Liver patients, Anxious patients, patients on anti-depressants etc. KINDLY SHARE YOUR MEDICAL CONDITIONS BEFORE STARTING ANY PROCEDURE.