Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in the mouth, typically between the ages of 17 and 25. They are so named because they are generally considered to be a sign of maturity and experience. Wisdom teeth usually come in behind your existing teeth and can cause pain and discomfort when they do. In this blog post, we will discuss all you need to know about wisdom tooth eruption: what they are, when they come in, how to tell if they’re coming in, and what to do if you think you’re experiencing symptoms of wisdom tooth eruption.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their lifetime. They usually come in during the late teenage years or early twenties, when a person is believed to have matured and acquired wisdom. For some people, they erupt with no problems and cause no pain. However, for others, wisdom teeth can be a real pain–literally! When they first start to come in, they can cause a lot of discomfort. Some people even experience symptoms like:
- Pain in the jaw
- Swelling of the gums towards the back of the mouth
- Redness and inflammation of the gums towards the back of the mouth
- Discharge from around the wisdom tooth
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- Pain when biting or chewing
- A bad taste in the mouth/chronic bad breath
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then your wisdom teeth may be coming in and it’s important to see a dentist right away. They will be able to take an x-ray of your mouth and determine if your wisdom teeth are indeed coming in and whether they are impacted.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
An impacted wisdom tooth is a tooth that does not have enough room to come in (erupt) properly. When this happens, the tooth can get stuck (impacted) against the bone or another tooth. Impacted teeth usually only partially come through the gum. They may cause problems if they are not treated early on. Some of the problems that can be caused by impacted wisdom teeth include pain, infection, cysts, and damage to the surrounding teeth.
There are different types of wisdom teeth impactions, including:
- Partial impactions: The tooth has broken through the gum, but is stuck against the bone. With a partial impaction, you can see part of the tooth.
- Full impactions: The tooth has not broken through the gum and is completely trapped by the bone. With a full impaction, the entire tooth is completely hidden below the gums.
Unfortunately impacted wisdom teeth are somewhat common. This is because wisdom teeth are a part of our evolutionary past. They were essential when the diet of early humans was made up of tough foods like leaves, seeds, and gamey meats. As food preparation methods changed the way food was eaten, the human skull started to evolve with larger brains and a small oral cavity. Nowadays, the modern human skull is shaped differently, meaning there is not as much room for this third set of molars. As a result, there is not always enough room for them to erupt properly.
What Happens After Your Wisdom Teeth Erupt:
If your wisdom teeth erupt properly, then you will just need to brush and floss them like your other teeth. Your dentist will continue to monitor your wisdom teeth as you age, since it is possible to develop complications later down the road.
However, if they are impacted or only partially erupted, then you will likely need to have them removed by a dentist or oral surgeon. Having your wisdom teeth removed alleviates the pain caused by impaction, as well as reduces the risk of infection or damage to the surrounding teeth.
There are two types of extractions used to remove wisdom teeth: simple and surgical. Both types of extractions will be performed using dental sedation and anesthetics to keep you calm and comfortable during the procedure.
A simple extraction is when the dentist can see the tooth and remove it with forceps. This type of extraction is usually done for teeth that are not impacted or only partially erupted.
A surgical extraction is a more complex procedure and is usually done for teeth that are fully impacted or unable to be removed with forceps. With a surgical extraction, the dentist will make an incision in the gum to reach the tooth and then remove it. Surgical extractions are usually more complicated and take longer to heal, but they are sometimes necessary if the tooth is impacted.
After your wisdom teeth have been extracted, you will likely need to take some pain medication and eat soft foods for a few days while you heal. You will also need to be sure to brush and floss around the extraction site(s) to prevent infection. Most people recover quickly from having their wisdom teeth extracted.
In this blog, we discussed wisdom teeth, symptoms of wisdom tooth eruption, and when to see a dentist. We also discussed what wisdom teeth impaction is and why it is so common. Finally, we explained why most wisdom teeth will need to be extracted and the different types of wisdom teeth impactions. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort in your mouth, be sure to see a dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible. Thanks for reading!