When we are growing up we get two sets of teeth. Your “baby teeth” that start to grow in sometime around the age of 6-9 months, and your “adult teeth”. The adult teeth will start to come in around the age of 6-years, and will stay with you for the rest of your life if you take good care of them. In the past, even as long ago as just 100-years, it was very common for people to lose some of their adult teeth. This was before we had toothpaste and tooth brush, or good dental care.
Because of these missing teeth the human body tried to help us out by growing “wisdom teeth”. These teeth are additional molars that start to grow in any time between the ages of 17-24 depending on the person. With better dental health that has come about in the last 100-years or so, most adults don’t have to worry about any missing teeth until they are well into their 20’s or 30’s and so wisdom teeth can sometimes be more of a problem than a help.
Not everyone will get wisdom teeth.
Some people do not develop wisdom teeth. If you are one of these lucky people you have nothing to worry about. For the rest of us that do get our wisdom teeth here are some signs to watch for: jaw pain in the back of your mouth, tender or bleeding gums in the back of your mouth, swelling near the back of the jaw.
Not everyone will need their wisdom teeth extracted.
Wisdom teeth extractions can be complicated. In recent years dentists have agreed that the risks of wisdom teeth extraction doesn’t always out-weigh the benefits. As wisdom teeth are growing they start to form deep within the gums, and can be surrounded by major blood vessels and nerves. The upper wisdom teeth can even form right on the edge of the sinus cavity. If they are extracted incorrectly this can cause a permanent hole in your sinus wall.
Some possible problems with wisdom teeth:
- Pain/Discomfort – this is the main symptom of wisdom teeth growing in. This is a normal side effect and a little pain should be expected. If the pain gets to be too much you should consult your dentist.
- Inflammation of the Gums – this is also a common symptom. As the teeth start to move under the gums they will break through the tissue. This can cause inflammation called pericoronitis (swelling of your gum around a far back molar that is growing above the gum line). This is a normal side effect however and you should consult your dentist for possible treatment.
- Partial Eruption – this occurs when the wisdom teeth start to grown in and then stop; they can even break the surface of the gums, but not be fully exposed. These teeth do not always need to be extracted. They can be fine and may fully erupt at a later time.
- Impaction – this occurs when wisdom teeth try to grow in sideways, or at an angle. If this happens they can start to push against the teeth in front of them. Pressure from the wisdom tooth may cause either tooth to crack, or become prone to cavities. You should consult your dentist for possible treatment.
- Infection – this happens most often as the teeth are growing in. If they are partially exposed food can get stuck on the teeth where the gums are partially exposed. Antibiotics should take care of the infection and you should consult your dentists for possible treatment.
- Cyst or Tumors – this can occur right next to the wisdom tooth. It is caused by the body’s natural defenses of trying to heal the exposed gums as the tooth grows in. Over time this can cause a fluid pocket (cyst), or hardened tissue (tumor) to form. You should consult your dentist for possible treatment.
What to do after extraction.
If you are one of the unlucky people who need to have their wisdom teeth extracted we’ve come up with some tips for you. These will help you recover sooner, and have less complications.
- Try putting the extra cotton swabs the dentist will give for your mouth in the freezer – the cool temperature directly on the affected area will help reduce the swelling.
- Try combining Ibuprofen and Tylenol – the Ibuprofen will help with the inflammation and swelling, and the Tylenol is a great over the counter pain reliever.
- Ice Cream instead of a Smoothie – a liquid diet is recommended after getting your teeth extracted, but you want to stay away from things you need to suck on.
- NO SMOKING – same as #3; when your gums are healing the body will cause blood clots in the gums to stop their bleeding and if you smoke, or use a sucking motion on anything, you can pull the blood clots free and prolong the bleeding.
- Avoid brushing and flossing for 24 hours – especially around the back of the mouth where your gums are healing.
- Try rinsing with saltwater – saltwater is a an alcohol free way to kill the bad bacteria in your mouth that can cause an infection, without being too harsh on your sensitive gums.