The full impact of an impacted wisdom tooth.
Problems with wisdom teeth don’t affect everyone, but when they strike, it's time to wave goodbye to them. Here’s why.
We had an interesting case in the surgery last week, and we thought we’d share his story with you. No names, of course, but let’s call him Jim for the purposes of this article.
Jim was in his mid-forties, and had never exhibited any signs of having trouble with wisdom teeth. But in the space of a month or two, Jim explained that this changed big –time.
His problem, of course, was an impacted wisdom tooth. That is to say, the wisdom tooth could not escape from the gum due to the location of other teeth, and so all hell broke loose. The irony, however, is that it had probably been there for decades, minding its own business, before deciding it wanted to erupt.
The moral here is that, while there are broad, general principles about wisdom teeth, they’re something of a law unto themselves and you’re never fully out of the woods – no matter what age you are.
Anyway, we took some extra time to explain to Jim what had happened to him. Tooth development normally takes place in a fairly organized manner, whether it's your baby teeth or your permanent teeth.
The first molar appears at around six or so, with the second appearing at around twelve. Wisdom teeth are actually a third set of molars. They start forming in the mouth at around the age of ten, and under normal conditions, they don’t appear until you're around seventeen to twenty-five (the so-called age of wisdom, hence the term wisdom teeth).
The good news, of course, is that many people never get wisdom teeth, but for those who do, you could be looking at a single tooth or multiple teeth – it’s just the luck of the draw.
You might ask why they cause so many problems. Surely nature has planned for all this? Well here’s the problem. Over our evolutionary history, our haws have become smaller and smaller, mainly thanks to changes in our diet. So with a smaller mouth, there can often be just too little room to accommodate those third molars.
Jim looked a little crestfallen at this explanation, but we cheered him up by telling him that he was lucky, in some ways. Why so? Well, if the tooth partially erupts, food can sometimes get trapped in the soft tissue that surrounds it. This leads to bacterial growth, in the short term, and eventually to an infected wisdom tooth.
And sometimes, a cyst can form near the impacted wisdom tooth, which can lead to destruction of the bine, expansion of the jaw and even damage to the surrounding healthy teeth. So in some respects, Jim had got off lightly.
He asked us if there was any option to extraction, but sadly, the answer is no. The only way to sort his problems was to get rid of the offending teeth. He’s booked in for his appointment early next month, and the great news for him is that he’ll enjoy full wisdom teeth pain relief once he’s waved goodbye to them.
Want to know more?
Here’s a good article on this topic on the website of MedicineNet.com -http://www.medicinenet.com/wisdom_teeth/page2.htm