Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to grow in at the back of the mouth.  A wisdom tooth can grow in each of the four back areas of the mouth, the:

  • Top right.

  • Top left.

  • Bottom right .

  • Bottom left.

The 4 molars usually appear during later adolescence, between the ages of 17 and 25. A small percentage of people are born with 1 or more missing wisdom teeth or have none at all. Wisdom teeth may become painful if:

  • There is not enough room in the mouth for them to emerge.

  • They are misaligned.

  • Infection develops.

With proper alignment and adequate space, healthy wisdom teeth can be an asset. 

CAUSES

Often there is not enough room in the back of the jaw for the wisdom teeth. They can become trapped inside the gum (impacted), They may also grow sideways or only partially erupt.

SYMPTOMS

The presence of wisdom teeth or impacted wisdom teeth may not cause any symptoms. However, problems with 1 or more wisdom teeth may result in:

  • Pain.

  • Swelling around the tooth.

  • Stiff jaw.

  • General feeling of illness.

  • Inability to fully open your mouth (trimus ).

  • Bad breath or unpleasant taste in your mouth.

Impacted teeth may increase the risk of:

  • Infection.

  • Damage to adjacent teeth.

  • Growth of cysts (formed when the sac surrounding the impaced tooth becomes filled with fluid and enlarges).

DIAGNOSIS

  • Oral exam.

  • X-rays.

TREATMENT

Your dentist or oral surgeon will recommend the best course of action for you. This may include surgical removal (extraction) of the wisdom teeth. Extraction is generally recommended to avoid complications. Removal and recovery time is easier if done in early adulthood since the roots of the teeth are smaller at this time and surrounding bone is softer. Sometimes your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend extraction before symptoms develop. This is done to avoid a more painful or complicated extraction at a later date.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Follow up with your caregiver as directed.  

  • If your wisdom teeth are causing pain or other symptoms:

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.    

  • Ice the affected area for 20 minutes at a time, 3 to 4 times per day. Place a towel on the skin over the painful area and the ice or cold pack over the towel. Do not place ice directly on the skin.

  • Eat soft foods or a liquid diet.  

  • Mild or moderate fevers generally have no long-term effects and often do not require treatment.

PROGNOSIS

Most patients recover fully from tooth extraction with proper care and pain management.

SEEK DENTAL DENTAL CARE IF :

  • Pain emerges, worsens, or is not controlled by the medicine you have been given.

  • Bleeding occurs.

SEEK IMMEDIATE DENTAL CARE IF:

  • You have a fever or persistent symptoms for more than 72 hours.

  • You have a fever and your symptoms suddenly get worse.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

MAKE SURE YOU

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.