Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Wisdom Teeth

dentist consultation

At AP Smilecare, we find that various patients have different levels of knowledge about their wisdom teeth. In many cases, it depends on whether they’ve had to take any action on them or not! Most of us only find out about our wisdom teeth when they start causing us pain or discomfort – so before that happens to you, let us fill you in on everything you’ll ever need to know about your wisdom teeth.

(Oh, we should say before we go on – if you are experiencing severe pain or discomfort right now, it’s always worth looking at our page for an emergency dentist in Blackburn. Don’t suffer in silence!)

The questions we’ll be covering this week include:

  1. What are wisdom teeth?
  2. Why do wisdom teeth grow in crooked?
  3. Do I need to get my wisdom teeth removed?
  4. How do I know if I need to get my wisdom teeth removed?
  5. What happens when wisdom teeth are misaligned?
  6. What’s an impacted wisdom tooth?
  7. How are wisdom teeth removed?
  8. How long does it take to recover once it’s been removed?

So – ready to find out the answers?

1. What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth is the name for our third and final set of molars (teeth at the back of the mouth). They tend to appear quite a while after all of our other adult teeth have taken their place in our mouths. Generally, wisdom teeth emerge through our gum line – in other words, start to appear in our mouths – in our late teens to early twenties. In certain cases, this can involve complications, which can lead to pain or discomfort. That’s when wisdom teeth need to be removed.

Historically, we’d have used them for grinding and chewing tougher food, but as a species we’re slowly evolving past them, which is why they tend to cause problems for some people but not for others. Sometimes, they don’t appear at all. The main problems occur when they grow in misaligned, or crooked.

diagram of wisdom teeth

2. Why Do Wisdom Teeth Grow In Crooked?

It’s worth remembering that not all wisdom teeth do! It’s only some of them. Often, they grow in fine and serve their purpose perfectly well as an additional set of teeth. In these cases, they don’t need to be extracted. Whether or not they grow in crooked depends on the mouth and genetics of the person concerned.

3. Do I Need To Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

In many cases, if you have to ask the question then the answer is probably no. Unless they’re painful or causing you discomfort, they’re generally fine as a normal set of teeth. But if you do have even the slightest concern, we’d always advise booking an appointment, just to be on the safe side!

4. How Do I Know If I Need To Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Mainly, it’ll be when they’re misaligned or grow in crooked. And in all likelihood, you’ll have a good idea! If they’re growing in misaligned – or you have an impacted wisdom tooth – this can result in a number of symptoms.

These symptoms include:

  • Intense pain that radiates forward towards your eyes, ears or head. This can be the sign of an abscessed tooth, as impacted wisdom teeth are particularly prone to infection
  • Intense jaw pain, or pain in the back of your mouth
  • Noticeable pressure or throbbing in your gums, or generally in the back of your mouth
  • Swollen gums (or even visible blood on the back of your gums)
  • Constant or persistent headaches or pain in your ears – this can be caused when your wisdom teeth are trying to make their way down in your mouth without enough room

jaw pain toothache

5. What Happens When Wisdom Teeth Are Misaligned?

Apart from causing you pain and being a problem in themselves, misaligned wisdom teeth can cause issues by affecting the other teeth surrounding them, too. They can cause crowding in your mouth, scraping against adjacent teeth, or even cause damage to your nerves or jaw. This can obviously be extremely painful, and this is when you’ll need to get them removed. They’re also far more likely to get infected, which opens up a whole new realm of problems!

6. What’s An Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

It’s a complication that can arise from misaligned wisdom teeth. An impacted wisdom tooth is essentially one that’s not able to break through the gum line (‘erupt’ is the technical term, however scary that sounds!), because it’s being blocked by another tooth, or even several. Without the room for it to grow into its proper place, it can cause serious pain. Even if it does manage to break through in the little space it has, this is how damage to other teeth or your jaw can occur, quite apart from the dangers of infection.

7. How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Like many of the other answers concerning wisdom teeth, that can depend! The exact procedure depends on (amongst other things) the status of the tooth, how developed it is, and what kind of problems it’s causing. Obviously, that takes into account how much pain or discomfort you’re in!

In all cases, when you schedule an appointment with us, we’ll sit you down and explain the situation with your teeth, and what sort of procedure you can expect. If your wisdom teeth have broken through the gum line already, they’ll be easier to extract, so if you’re not in too much pain we may well wait until that’s happened. However, impacted wisdom teeth are naturally far more complicated, and may well even need to be removed in parts.

impacted wisdom teeth

8. How Long Does It Take To Recover After A Wisdom Tooth Operation?

Again, as you might have guessed, that varies. It depends on the nature and intensiveness of the operation, which means that it can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to recover fully. We know it sounds scary, but trust us – the long term benefits are worth the recovery time! Your teeth will be vulnerable in this time, so we may well advise you to avoid specific foods in order to safeguard your recovery. Hard candy, for example, is definitely one to steer clear of – although to be honest, that one applies in day-to-day life, too! (Working at a dental clinic in Blackburn means we’re very biased towards hard candy. It’s absolutely awful for your teeth!

Naturally, if you have any questions at any stage, we’re always here to help. We understand that having any kind of operation can be very intimidating, but you can trust us to always have your welfare at the forefront of our minds. If you’re still worried, we offer dental sedation as one of our core dental services. Feel free to take a look at what else we offer, and of course if you still have any queries, or you want to book an appointment, just give us a call on 01254 297000. We’re always here to help!

Posted on: 27th Mar, 2018