What are they?
'Wisdom' teeth are the last teeth to appear, at the back of the mouth, from the late teens onwards. Most people have four wisdom teeth, but it is not unusual to have fewer - even none.
Because they are the last teeth to form, there sometimes isn't room for them. They come through at an angle, pressing - 'impacting' - against the teeth in front or behind.
What does the dentist do?
Watching the growth of teeth and jaws is part of your regular dental care. Do tell your dentist if you think a problem might be developing so that you can discuss it:
- X-rays can show where the wisdom teeth are in the jaw and how much room there is for them to come through, as well as whether any damage is being caused to the teeth in front;
- The x-rays will also show how simple or difficult a wisdom tooth extraction might be,. The dentist might refer you to a specialist to have your wisdom teeth removed.
As wisdom teeth are coming through, the surrounding gum becomes inflamed and sore. This is called 'pericoronitis'. It may settle down or come and go over a period. It is usually beter to remove a wisdom tooth after you have had pericoronitis because they often continue to cause trouble.
If you need to have a wisdom tooth removed you should be able to fit it in with work or other commitments. Sometimes, all wisdom teeth are removed at one time, in hospital, under general anaesthetic. You may need two or three days off work.
What are the benefits of removing wisdom teeth?
- Removal ends pain and takes away a possible source of infection;
- Any damage to the teeth in front is stopped.
Find out about tooth extraction.