Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to grow in the human mouth. Typically, individuals experience their growth around the end of their adolescent years. Depending on the case, dentists will usually advise the extraction of wisdom teeth to either prevent complications or to resolve infection.
When you start to feel pressure or pain in the rear of your mouth, you may be getting your wisdom teeth. These generally come in when people are between the ages of 16 and 30 usually fully developing by mid-twenties. The name ‘wisdom’ teeth originated from the belief that typically age 22 was the age of wisdom, hence the term.
Due to the fact that most jaws are not large enough to accommodate the addition of these teeth, there is often pressure or pain associated with the emerging teeth. Sometimes the teeth will remain under the surface of the gum and emerge frequently only to re-submerge under the gum again and again. Each time the tooth re-emerges, it may cause toothache, gum tenderness and pressure on the jaw and other teeth often leading to headaches.
In the case of wisdom teeth that have not fully emerged or developed, the process of the teeth attempting to break the surface of the gums may cause the other teeth to become misaligned. Pressure from the growing teeth may push against the adjacent teeth and cause crooked teeth and jaw soreness. Neck, ear and head pain may occur as a result of the pressure build up from this process. Teeth and jaw misalignments may also occur due to the pressing teeth on the other molars. When this occurs, you may need to seek orthodontic treatment to correct the problem. In severe cases, bacteria may enter the partially impacted teeth and cause a cyst or cavity to form which leads to extreme soreness and pain. This is immediate cause for tooth extraction and a sure indication you are getting yours.
Another way to tell if you are getting wisdom teeth in is through professional x-rays. During regular visits to the dentist, x-rays will be able to determine if they are coming in or not. Dentists will also be able to determine whether or not their development will cause complications or difficulties with your adjacent teeth and your overall jaw alignment. In some severe cases, the teeth roots may grow and develop in an irregular fashion or the teeth may grow in at an angle causing severe difficulties and pain. That is why it is imperative to see a dental professional regularly to prevent severe complications related to wisdom teeth.
Generally speaking, you should be able to tell you are getting your wisdom teeth by soreness and jaw tenderness in relation to the rear of your mouth on the lower and upper jaw. Reaching your finger to the back of your molars to feel along the gums may allow you to feel protruding or impending teeth and a set of x-rays will confirm your findings. Should you begin to experience any pain around the back molar areas, be sure to visit your dentist as soon as you are able, in order to confirm the emergence of your teeth and discuss options for extraction.
With the help of radiographs (X-Rays), we can frequently predict if the unerupted teeth will be problematic. Surgery is much simpler for younger patients than older patients as roots are not yet fully developed and bone is not as dense. As well, younger patients tend to heal more rapidly. The healing potential is highest prior to the age of thirty.
Partially erupted teeth are considered to be impacted. Naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth can work their way down to the impacted wisdom teeth, frequently causing infection in the surrounding gums and bone. Repeated soreness around the wisdom teeth is often mistaken as an effort on the part of the teeth to erupt. This soreness, however, could be a sign of infection. Surrounding bone, tooth roots and adjacent teeth may be harmed if left untreated.
The constant pressure from impacted wisdom teeth can also damage adjacent teeth. You may not feel anything until significant damage has occurred. This pressure may also push other teeth out of line, possibly creating a need for orthodontic treatment.
Even if you have no symptoms now, headaches, earaches, pain in the face, neck, throat and upper and lower teeth can occur if impacted wisdom teeth are not removed. Cysts can also develop around impacted wisdom teeth. The sac or growth follicle that surrounds the developing wisdom teeth may remain when the teeth are impacted. This sac can fill with fluid and become cystic, destroying bone surrounding adjacent molars. In rare instances, if the cyst is not treated, a tumor may develop and more extensive procedures may be required for removal.