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Wise up to your wisdom tooth!


Date :14/05/2015

EVEN IF You were among the lucky few who missed the curse of acne as a teenager, you can still experience breakouts well into your 40s and beyond. Paradoxically it is the same story with wisdom teeth.

The back teeth on either side of each jaw, these normally appear between 17 and 25 years of age but could cause you trouble at just about any age. The general belief is that individuals have gained knowledge, prudence and discreation around the age these teeth erupt (unlike the rest which erupt at various stages of growth) Which is why they are called wisdom teeth; however there is no scientific basis for it.

What are wisdom teeth?

Molars are the teeth we use for chewing and grinding found farthest in the mouth. We have three molars on either side of each jaw; the last molar is called the wisdom tooth. More often, since all other teeth have erupted by the time these emerge, there is scarcity of space for them to appear in the right position.

This results in their ‘impaction’, which is a term coined for teeth which have failed to emerge fully into their expected position in the mouth. Also, these wisdom teeth erupting in a wrong angulation could render them impacted either horizontal, vertical or sideways withing the bone or just in the soft tissues.

Why should wisdom teeth be extracted?

1. Pericoronitis : This is the infection located in the tissues surrounding a wisdom tooth that has not fully emerged through the gums. The partial eruption creates a space between the overlying tissues and erupting wisdom tooth where bacteria, food and debris tend to collect causing an active infection. There is tooth pain, swelling and tenderness in relation to the offending wisdom tooth, a foul odour emanating from the mouth and a bad taste on the tongue.

2. Recurrent tooth decay: The remoteness makes it hard to clean with a toothbrush theryby resulting in cavities. But the sad part is that access for the dentist to do a filling is poor and chances of recurrent tooth decay even after a dental filling are high. Frequently, because of poor oral hygiene the neighouring tooth is also affected.

3. Gum disease : Health or disease related to gums is never an isolated event, it almost definitely affects neighbouring teeth. The space above the wisdom tooth, if partially erupted, and the difficulty of constant cleanliness leads to gingivitis and pockets where debris and bacteria accumulate causing further dental problems.

4. Cysts and tummours : An x-ray is the best way to confirm an impaction which you should get done at the dental office. Incidentally it also indicates the presence of systs or tumours in relation to the impacted wisdom tooth.

5. Tooth crowding : The wisdom tooth whether erupting in a wrong direction or impacted exerts pressure on the other teeth especially lower front teeth causing them to be crowded and shifted (malaligned).

Having discussed this, the procedural steps and post teeth extraction care will be dealt with next week.

The author is dental surgeon and can be contacted at ALL SMILES DENTAL CLIN- IC, 6673439, 9845085230.

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