Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt from someone’s jaw and usually present themselves during our teenage years. Also referred to as the third molars, these teeth are quite unique in that they appear such a long time after the other teeth have formed.
It is this unique characteristic that unfortunately leads to so many complications associated with wisdom teeth and the reason that most people will have to have them removed to avoid complications.
Why are Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
If a person’s wisdom teeth are aligned in a way that they do not disturb the other teeth and the gum tissue remains healthy as the teeth erupt, it should not be necessary to have them extracted. In most instances however, this is unfortunately not the case. Oftentimes, the third molar will erupt at an angle and be partially revealed. This opening in the gums can allow bacteria in and cause food particles to become trapped. This leads to an infection in the gums that causes swelling and pain if left untreated. In severe cases, these infections can lead to cysts and tumors which is why preventative care is so important.
If the wisdom teeth erupt sideways and remain compacted beneath the gums it could cause severe pressure on the other teeth, moving them and disrupting a person’s orthodontic alignment. A third molar that is partially impacted and not fully visible can cause the gum tissue overlying the impacted tooth to become inflamed and swollen. This inflammation is called Pericoronitis, which causes a lot of pain and discomfort in the mouth and could also lead to an infection.
When Should Wisdom Teeth be Extracted?
Wisdom teeth will erupt at different ages for different patients. A dentist should be able to identify them between the ages of 12 and 17 and make recommendations according to the position of the third molar before it reaches the gums. If the wisdom teeth are poorly positioned, the dentist will recommend that the patient have them surgically removed. It is important to extract wisdom teeth as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary complications. A younger patients’ teeth are not fully formed and the jawbone is more forgiving to surgical procedures, which decreases the surgical risks and greatly improves recovery. Removing wisdom teeth before they start to emerge will also effectively eliminate the risk of infection and gum inflammation.
The surgical extraction of wisdom teeth is quite a straight-forward procedure that can be completed relatively quickly under local anesthesia. An incision is made in the gums in order to expose the jawbone and reach the impacted tooth. The third molar is then uncovered, sectioned and removed. If necessary, the bone will be filled in with bone grafting material, after which the wound is sealed with sutures. The patient may experience some discomfort and swelling in the days after the procedure and will be unable to eat certain food for a few days.
The dedicated team at Centurion Day Hospital will provide patients with everything they need to make a speedy recovery and will be on hand for any questions that might arise. Our team of surgeons are available to provide world-class care in our state-of-the-art facilities. Visit www.centuriondayhospital.co.za to book an appointment today!