Four wisdom teeth is supposedly standard-issue for adults, but it’s quite possible to be fully grown-up and only have one or two, or even no wisdom teeth.
If you are having problems with swollen gums or jaw, it could mean that your emerging wisdom teeth are wedging into other teeth and causing problems. Any ongoing swelling and pain means it’s time for a dental checkup. Here’s what everyone should know about wisdom teeth.
Do we all have wisdom teeth?
If your wisdom teeth never appeared, or you don’t have a matched set of four, don’t worry. It has no effect on your wisdom, or your mouth.
Wisdom teeth are officially your ‘third molars’ and four of them are supposed to appear some time from late adolescence until your mid-twenties. It’s a great theory, but you might only get three, or even one, or none. That’s fine.
It’s not the number of wisdom teeth that’s the problem, it’s how they emerge. If they don’t come through properly you can find yourself with dental issues.
What symptoms can wisdom teeth cause?
Wisdom teeth aren’t always trouble – if you’re seeing your dentist regularly for checkups, your dentist will let you know if anything is a potential issue.
Problems can start with wisdom teeth if they can’t emerge properly because there isn’t enough space in your jaw. This causes them to wedge or become impacted. Adjoining teeth feel the pressure and this can cause issues, including infections.
So if you have any symptoms such as swollen gums, bleeding, headaches or jaw pain you need to see your dentist – it could be a wisdom tooth or something else which needs treatment. Regardless of how recently you saw your dentist, always get serious symptoms such as swollen jaws or gums checked as soon as possible.
Can you keep your wisdom teeth?
Once you’ve had your teeth examined your dentist will explain what’s going on – if you’ve developed an infection you might need some antibiotics and an X-ray could also be required.
Removing impacted wisdom teeth is usually the only way to permanently deal with the problem and stop the pain.
How are wisdom teeth removed?
Wisdom teeth can sometimes be removed under a local anaesthetic, just as you’d have other teeth extracted. But if your tooth is awkwardly placed you might need an oral surgeon and want more than a local anaesthetic. Sedation dentistry can put you into a light sleep while the surgery is completed and afterwards you won’t recall it. A general anaesthetic can also be used if required – your dentist will explain your options. Deeply-impacted wisdom teeth will generally mean stitches in your gum following the extraction.
Your DB Dental experts will be able to explain what your particular issue is and how it can best be treated.