Your third molars, more commonly known as your wisdom teeth, are the last of your adult teeth to erupt. They typically emerge in your late teens the too early 20s. These four teeth are also the ones that are the most likely to become impacted, which can then lead to serious oral health issues and a significant amount of pain. At Van Alstine Family Dentistry, we can diagnose impacted wisdom teeth and provide you with the treatment you need to restore your oral health and the quality of your life.
A Brief History Of Wisdom Teeth
Long ago, wisdom teeth had a purpose. Thousands of years ago, when humans at a raw food diet, the wisdom teeth were crucial for breaking down a variety of course foods. Back then, the jaw was larger, allowing for these teeth to fit comfortably in the mouth. With the development of cooking, food became easier to chew. The need for the wisdom teeth disappeared. The size of the jaw shrank, but the wisdom teeth remained. Today, they are classified by anthropologists as vestigial organs.
What Issues Can Impacted Wisdom Teeth Cause?
For some people, the wisdom teeth develop normally and erupt just like any other tooth. However, for many more people, the wisdom teeth cause a significant amount of trouble. The wisdom teeth are the most likely teeth to become impacted. Impacted teeth are those that cannot properly erupt through the gums. In many cases, they are unable to erupt at all. When your wisdom teeth are impacted, they can cause some different issues.
- Overcrowding. Because the jaw is smaller than it once was, there is often not enough space for all 32 adult teeth. As the wisdom teeth attempt to erupt, they can put pressure on your other teeth, forcing them out of alignment and causing overcrowding.
- Tooth damage. If the wisdom teeth are angled toward your other teeth, they can make contact with the adjacent teeth, causing cracks to form below the gum line.
- Pericoronitis. For some people, the wisdom teeth only partially erupt through the gums. These areas of the mouth become more difficult to clean, allowing debris and bacteria to build up. This can then lead to a localized infection known as pericoronitis.
- Cysts. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form as a result of impacted teeth. They only continue to grow in size the longer your impacted wisdom teeth go untreated, and they can cause damage to your jawbone. In severe cases, you may need a bone graft to restore strength back to the jaw after treatment.
Diagnosing And Treating Impacted Wisdom Teeth
If you suspect an issue with your wisdom teeth, it is important to make an appointment right away. We perform a thorough oral exam to diagnose the cause of your discomfort. We visually inspect your mouth, checking for signs of damage and decay. We also take dental X-rays. X-rays allow us to see below your gum line. We can see the development of the wisdom teeth, if there are any cysts, and if there is any damage to the adjacent teeth.
If your wisdom teeth are impacted, the only way to treat them is to extract them. There are two ways to extract teeth, simple extractions and surgical extractions. Surgical extractions are common with the wisdom teeth. This procedure, done under a local anesthetic, and frequently sedation, involves incisions in the gums to expose the teeth. We then remove any bone that may be blocking the teeth and remove the teeth themselves. In some situations, the teeth may need to be broken to remove them completely. After the teeth have been removed, the gums are sutured closed. There is no need to replace extracted wisdom teeth.
Treating impacted wisdom teeth is essential for putting an end to the pain they are causing you, and for restoring the health of your mouth. Call Van Alstine Family Dentistry today for more information and to schedule your consultation at Van Alstine Family Dentistry Phone Number (734) 482-8500.