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(Friday, 29th Aug, 2014)
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Wisdom Teeth

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Wisdom Teeth

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the large molars found at the very back of the jaw. They are the last teeth to appear (erupt) in the mouth, usually around the age of 16, although this can vary. If the jaw is too small to accommodate them, they may cause pain or crowd other teeth out of position.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are often in the wrong position and this mean they fail to emerge properly. If the wisdom tooth pushes in at an angle, it can press on the neighbouring tooth, causing pain or damage.

Food particles can also become stuck in the soft gum tissue surrounding the erupting tooth. This can lead to infection and tooth decay.

When the tooth attempts to erupt, the overlying gum may swell and cause pain. Pain may also be felt in other teeth or in the ear.

What are the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth?

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the gum.
  • Bad breath.
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth.
  • Pain on biting.
  • Pain on opening the mouth.

How can I prevent impacted wisdom teeth?

Unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about the angle your wisdom teeth will erupt at. However you can try to prevent infection of the erupting tooth by practising good dental hygiene. Adequate brushing and flossing is essential. If the position of the tooth makes it difficult to clean, ask your dentist for advice.

What happens if I already have impacted wisdom teeth?

Visit your dentist immediately. Impacted teeth often require extraction because of the risk of infection. Because of their location in the back of the mouth, they can be very difficult to clean. This makes them vulnerable to tooth decay.

In some cases the dentist can remove the wisdom teeth in the surgery. Sometimes a patient will be required to have their wisdom teeth surgically removed in a hospital.

My wisdom teeth were painful but the pain has stopped now. Do I still need to see a dentist?

Yes. The pain may subside for days, even months; however it may recur at a later time. An impacted tooth can damage neighbouring teeth or distort the bite. Therefore, even if the pain has stopped you should consult your dentist.

I am 25 and I don't have any wisdom teeth yet. Does this mean I will never get any?

Not necessarily. Wisdom teeth can develop later in life in some people. While it is possible that some people will never get them, this is considered rare.

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