Wisdom teeth are the molars that come in last. When they’re properly aligned, they serve to fill out the dental architecture and are a valuable asset. The problem is, by the time these teeth erupt, the mouth is often crowded, so they sometimes come in angled wrong. Wisdom teeth that fail to grow in properly can lead to complications like damaging adjacent teeth or injuring the supporting tissues.
There are a total of four wisdom teeth, two on top and two on the bottom. They generally erupt between ages 17-25.
Impacted wisdom teeth fail to erupt, or push through the soft tissue. They may even still be enclosed in the jawbone. In some cases, the tooth pushes part way through the gum tissue, leaving a place for bacteria to enter and cause infection.
Symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth include:
Patients may experience any of these symptoms, but sometimes the only sign is that one or more wisdom teeth are still missing well into adulthood.
That is something only Dr. Hassan can determine for sure. She exams the mouth and may do periodic X-rays to evaluate the development of the wisdom teeth, to see if they’re erupting normally and in alignment, or if they look problematic. She makes a recommendation on whether removal is appropriate based on that evaluation.
For some patients, it's better to take a preventive approach and get the wisdom teeth out before they can cause complications. Wisdom tooth extraction is easier and less painful when done at an early age, too.
It depends on the stage of development of the tooth. A wisdom tooth that is through the gum is pulled in the same way as any tooth. If the tooth remains under the soft tissue, Dr. Hassan makes an incision to expose the tooth. If a tooth is still embedded in bone, she may need to take out part of the bone as well.
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