It’s time to shed light on the often misunderstood topic of wisdom teeth. These molars can cause various issues, from pain and swelling to bad breath and even gum disease. But why do we have them, and what can we do to manage the dental complications they may bring? Read on to discover the signs and symptoms that can help identify the emergence of a wisdom tooth.
These are the third and final set of molars that typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 21, completing the lineup of adult teeth. Although the arrival of these teeth can vary from person to person, one thing is certain: they often make their presence known through discomfort and other symptoms.
When issues arise, it is essential to visit a dental clinic or a dentist for an X-ray to assess the situation and determine the appropriate course of action.
Wisdom teeth are situated at the posterior of the mouth, behind your second molar. This location can make them challenging to clean, increasing the likelihood of dental problems.
It is believed that wisdom teeth may have been beneficial to our ancestors, who had larger jaws and required additional chewing power for their diet. However, in humans today, wisdom teeth serve a lesser role, providing an extra pair of molars on each side of the mouth to facilitate the grinding of food.
Insufficient space in the modern jaw often leads to wisdom teeth becoming impacted or partially erupted, causing a myriad of dental issues.
Wisdom teeth can sometimes cause problems due to various factors related to their growth and positioning. Here are some reasons why these can lead to complications:
Impaction. One common issue with wisdom teeth is impaction, which occurs when there is not enough space in your mouth for these teeth to fully emerge or grow in a proper alignment. Impacted wisdom teeth can grow at wrong angles, press against adjacent teeth, or remain partially covered by gum tissue. This can lead to crowding, shifting, or damage to neighbouring teeth.
Misalignment. Your wisdom teeth may erupt at an angle or in a tilted position. This misalignment can interfere with the bite and chewing function, causing discomfort, pain, and difficulty opening the mouth fully.
Partial Eruption. Sometimes, wisdom teeth only partially emerge from the gum line, leaving a flap of the gum tissue over the partially erupted tooth. This creates a pocket where bacteria and food particles accumulate, leading to swelling gum.
Cysts and Tumours. In rare cases, cysts or tumours can develop around your wisdom teeth. These abnormal growths can cause damage to the jawbone, nearby teeth, and nerves, leading to pain, swelling, and more severe oral health problems if left untreated.
The eruption of wisdom teeth is a natural process that occurs as part of your teeth’ development. Although the age, stages, and duration of eruption can vary among individuals, it is crucial to understand the general timeline to be prepared for any symptoms or complications that may arise.
Let’s delve into the detailed process of wisdom tooth eruption.
Wisdom teeth typically occur during the late teens or early twenties, as previously mentioned—between the ages of 17 and 21—but not always at the same time. It coincides with a stage in life where most individuals have completed their primary dental development and are transitioning into adulthood.
Stage 1: Initial Emergence – Your tooth begins its journey through the gums, a wisdom tooth’s movement beneath the surface of the gums. At this stage, you might not experience any noticeable symptoms. Wisdom teeth typically emerge in the following sequence:
Stage 2: Partial Eruption -As your tooth continues to move upward, it starts breaking through the gum line. This is when you might start noticing some signs/symptoms in the back of your mouth.
Stage 3: Full Eruption – Your tooth is fully visible in the mouth during this phase.
The time it takes for a wisdom tooth to emerge depends on each individual. It can take several months or even years for a wisdom tooth to fully come out. However, some factors can influence the timing of wisdom tooth eruption, including the position of the existing teeth, lack of space, jaw size and structure, age, gender, and genetics.
Patience is key when it comes to wisdom teeth, as they tend to have a schedule of their own, and wisdom tooth extraction might be needed in the future. Simple wisdom tooth extraction may be necessary to prevent complications and alleviate pain. In some cases, wisdom tooth surgery can help to maintain the overall health of the mouth and prevent the risks associated with an impacted wisdom tooth.
Additionally, it’s crucial to keep an eye on any changes in the back of your mouth and consult a dentist if necessary.
Moving on… Let’s explore the common signs of wisdom tooth eruption and learn how to identify them.
Just like a volcano announcing its impending eruption, wisdom teeth also give out signs and symptoms before making their emergence. It is important to recognise these indications to seek timely dental care and prevent complications.
One of the most common signs of wisdom tooth eruption is pain and discomfort in the back of your mouth. This pain can be mild to severe and can manifest as:
The pressure exerted by the emerging tooth as it pushes against the jawbone, the gum tissue, or other teeth can cause this discomfort. It’s crucial to address pain and seek dental care when necessary.
As your wisdom tooth starts to erupt, you might notice swelling and inflammation of the gums around the emerging wisdom tooth. This inflammation, known as pericoronitis, occurs when the tooth is partially impacted and can result in the following:
This can make it difficult to brush and floss properly, leading to an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits can help manage the swelling and inflammation associated with wisdom tooth eruption.
Bad breath and an unpleasant taste in your mouth can be symptoms of wisdom tooth eruption. When your wisdom teeth start to erupt, they can create pockets or small openings in the gums where food particles and bacteria can get trapped. Another is the presence of pus; if there is an infection, there could be a pus discharge, which can lead to foul smell issues in your mouth.
Addressing these symptoms and maintaining proper oral care is essential to prevent further complications. Gum disease and tooth decay are complications that may be associated with bad breath.
The pain and tension associated with wisdom tooth eruption can sometimes radiate to other parts of your head, leading to headaches. This can be due to the following:
If the emerging wisdom tooth causes irritation or inflammation in the surrounding tissues, you might find it challenging to fully open your mouth and sometimes feel discomfort while chewing. This can be a result of both pain and physical obstruction.
It’s important to note that while some level of discomfort is common during wisdom tooth eruption, ongoing difficulties with chewing should not be ignored.
In some cases, the pain from wisdom tooth eruption might be felt in your ears. This is because the nerves in the mouth and jaw are interconnected with those in the ears.
Fever is also a sign and symptom of wisdom tooth eruption when an infection accompanies the eruption. If your gum tissue around an erupting wisdom tooth becomes infected and inflamed due to trapped debris, the body’s immune response can result in a fever.
Given the signs and symptoms of wisdom tooth eruption, it is important to know when to seek dental care. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, see your dentists to evaluate the cause and receive appropriate treatment recommendations.
They may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
Over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with wisdom tooth eruption. These medications are readily available and can relieve discomfort as soon as you experience pain.
If the erupted wisdom tooth is infected, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help clear up the infection.
Home remedies for wisdom tooth eruption include:
Recognising the signs and symptoms of wisdom tooth eruption is crucial for maintaining oral health. Although wisdom tooth eruption is a natural part of dental development, complications can occur, especially if there isn’t enough room for these teeth to erupt properly. If you’re experiencing pain, swelling, or any other concerning symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist. Regular dental check-ups can also help monitor the progress of your wisdom teeth and address any potential noticeable problems early on. Remember, proactive dental care is key to keeping your smile healthy and pain-free.