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Wisdom teeth are the teeth that emerge in the back of the mouth around the time that you thought you were finished getting any new teeth. Between the ages of 17 and 25, you will likely start to notice some pressure in the back of the mouth, as these large teeth try to emerge and take their intended place along the gum line. The large surface area and substantial root systems of these teeth often present problems in the mouth.
Wisdom teeth are often too big for the rest of your mouth to accommodate, which can result in the tooth getting stuck (impacted) in the jaw bone, the gum tissue, or both. Infections can result in situations where the tooth has only partially emerged from the gums. When some of the tooth remains covered by gum tissue, chronic inflammation and infection of the surrounding tissues can result. The bacteria in the mouth, combined with food debris becomes trapped until the gum causing painful inflamed gums.
Infections that occur around the wisdom teeth often begin by producing pain in the gums surrounding the teeth. A bad taste in the mouth (metallic or sour) coming from the back gums are an indicator of infection, regardless of whether pus is visible. Lymph nodes under the jaw can become painful and swollen, and a fever may accompany other symptoms. If you notice any or all of these symptoms, we recommend booking a visit with us as soon as possible. With the assistance of X-Rays, we can confidently assess the placement of the tooth inside the jaw and determine how we can best address your symptoms to get you feeling better.
Tooth infections of any kind are a priority health issue, as bacteria can travel along the roots of the teeth and into the bone and blood system where the localized infection can become a systemic concern with serious associated health risks.
Infections around wisdom teeth can have several causes. It is common for infections related to wisdom teeth to recur if the tooth is not removed. In some cases, wisdom teeth can be maintained, but it is more common to recommend removal in order to avoid long-term problems associated with the teeth.
Dentigerous cysts can occur around unerupted wisdom teeth and, while they tend not to be painful, they have the potential to be destructive the to bone structures which surround them, resulting in bone loss. Dentigerous cysts are not visible by oral examination, and therefore X-ray diagnostic imaging is used to detect underlying cysts.
How will I know if I have a cyst?
Cysts around wisdom teeth often do not result in complaints of pain, but there are other symptoms which can present. Most notably, enlargement of the gingival structure around the back of the mouth, and displacement of surrounding teeth. Unfortunately, however, many cysts can be ‘missed’ by patients who do not feel significant enough discomfort to warrant investigating the concern. The cyst continues to grow without intervention. The result can often be resorption of the tooth root, or bone degeneration. Cysts are rarely associated with baby teeth and tend to present more in males. The timing of a cyst often occurs in the 20’s and 30’s as wisdom teeth start to emerge.
As with almost any issues involving your health, the best defense is a routine of regular dental examinations and cleaning, as well as good oral health practices. With routine visits to the doctor, concerns such as cysts can be identified and treated before they have an opportunity to negatively impact the long-term integrity and health of your oral cavity.
If we determine that your wisdom teeth should be removed, we will first determine whether there are any circumstances that would warrant sending you to a dental surgeon for removal. Occasionally concerns such as nerve placement along the root system or proximity of the upper root systems to the sinus cavity require specialty techniques in order to be removed safely.
In most situations, we can provide tooth extraction right here in our clinic. The process of extraction involves first numbing the area of the wisdom tooth to prevent you from feeling any discomfort during the relatively brief procedure. Depending upon whether your tooth is fully exposed or not, we may make an incision into the gum tissue to expose the crown of the tooth in preparation for removal. Once the tooth is removed, the gum tissue will be replaced and may require some stitches to help control bleeding and promote healing. The root cavity will be filled with blood upon extraction, and when this blood clots, it forms a protective layer over top of the nerve and does not allow air to enter the wound.