What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth is the term commonly used to identify adult third molar teeth. These are the back-most teeth in the dental arches. There are usually four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower. They are usually the last of the 32 adult teeth to grow.
Wisdom teeth typically make their presence known from about the age of 18 years.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Sometimes Cause Trouble?
Because of their physical location at the back of each dental arch, wisdom teeth sometimes find it difficult to erupt (break through) through the gum and into a functional position in line with the rest of the teeth.
Some wisdom teeth manage to partially erupt through the gum before their movement is impeded. Others fail to erupt at all and remain submerged under the gum. When a tooth’s eruption is prevented, the tooth is said to be “impacted”.
Impaction of one or more wisdom teeth is a common occurrence in people aged 18-25 years.
If wisdom teeth do manage to erupt, either partially or completely, their location so far back in the mouth can make it difficult for the person to thoroughly clean the teeth. Wisdom teeth are therefore more likely to experience dental diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Partially or completely submerged wisdom teeth may sometimes grow close to the roots of the second molars (the molars just in front of them). This can cause damage to the roots and affect the health of the second molar teeth. In rare cases, cysts can develop around wisdom teeth.
It’s fairly common for the presence of wisdom teeth to be associated with discomfort and dental disease. But it’s not all bad news. Some people are born without wisdom teeth, and many wisdom teeth erupt into the mouth without any difficulties.
When Wisdom Teeth Are Causing Discomfort
If your wisdom teeth are giving you trouble, Dr Teo will assess them to determine whether they are likely to require removal. This assessment will involve an inspection of your mouth, as well as x-ray(s) to visualise the position of the wisdom teeth in the jaws and structures around them. She will endeavour to get you comfortable as soon as she can.
When Wisdom Teeth Are Not Causing Discomfort
It’s quite possible for wisdom teeth to be present in the jaw and causing damage or developing disease without any symptoms. This is why Dr Teo may recommend an investigation during the teenage years to see whether wisdom teeth are present. This presence or absence is assessed using an x-ray called an OPG.
If wisdom teeth are present and appear to be likely to erupt without incident, Dr Teo may recommend regular monitoring until they move into place.
If there are signs of impaction or disease, Dr Teo will recommend an appropriate course of action.
Does Dr Teo Remove Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth cases may be referred to a specialist oral surgeon, but Dr Teo will perform the extractions in her rooms if deemed appropriate.