Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that erupt from the back of the mouth and can be the cause of great discomfort and disruption. A wisdom tooth that does not fully erupt is known as an impacted wisdom tooth, and can carry a variety of issues. Impacted wisdom teeth are extremely common and quite often occur in teenage years or early twenties. Wisdom teeth are thought to be a remnant of our ancestors, who would have needed the teeth for their slightly larger jaws.
The cause of tooth eruption is still largely unknown, and continues to be the subject of research and debate. While the cause of tooth eruption is not known, it is known that wisdom teeth will erupt from the ages of 17-21, and mostly be fully formed at age 25. However, it is common for wisdom teeth to never fully emerge, and simply remain under the gums for life. This is not uncommon, and can be perfectly normal, but in some cases cause some issues if the tooth begins to shift.
Wisdom tooth eruption can often be painful, and disruptive to your lifestyle. If your wisdom tooth is extremely painful, it can also be a symptom of decay or gum infection, which can be dangerous to your oral health. If the wisdom tooth is too painful or proven to be ineffective or damaging to other teeth, then it can be removed. This can be under local or general anaesthetic, depending on your preference, however a dentist will be able to advise you on the best course of action. As this is a common issue, millions of wisdom teeth are removed annually.
Hyperdontia can be a symptom of painful wisdom teeth. The issue of hyperdontia is caused when there are too many teeth, and the wisdom teeth may become crowded trying to push through the gums, which can cause an immense amount of pressure and discomfort in the mouth. In effect, an impacted wisdom tooth is a very similar form of condition and can cause issues with the alignment of the teeth, and produce painful symptoms.
Complications with wisdom tooth removal
There can be some issues surrounding the removal of a wisdom tooth. Dry socket is a common issue, where the socket fails to heal properly, and can leave the bone exposed, which can be extremely painful. It is caused when a blood clot in the socket fails to heal the wound or is lost, thereby exposing the jawbone.
Another issue that may arise from having a wisdom tooth removed, is damage to the trigeminal nerve, which may cause strange sensations in the mouth, such as tingling or numbness. It is not serious to your oral health, however with serious damage it could be a permanent condition. However, with proper extraction, this should be a relatively low risk, one that your dentist should discuss with you prior to your dental treatment.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.