Wisdom teeth are usually the very last teeth to appear and while they usually arrive between the ages of 17 and 25, many people still have problems with them pushing through years later. Although adults can have up to 32 teeth, we rarely manage to fit more than 28 in at any one time, so if your mouth is already full when your wisdom teeth start cutting then you could be in for a bit of trouble.
Wisdom teeth are situated at the very back of the teeth. If you have space for them to come through normally then you shouldn’t experience any problems other than mild discomfort when they actually cut. However, if there is limited space for them then this could mean that they come through at an unnatural angle, which could damage other teeth and cause you pain.
When this happens your dentist will refer to it as an ‘impacted wisdom tooth’ and will likely recommend surgical intervention. Your dentist will probably also take some x-rays of your wisdom teeth in order to assess them as they are coming through to help decide if the intervention will be necessary.
Teething isn’t fun for adults either. Wisdom teeth are large and cutting them may be a painful experience. They don’t necessarily all cut at once either. Wisdom teeth are made up of four sections and many people find that they cut one corner at a time. This is called pericoronitis. When the wisdom tooth comes through in this way, the gum surrounding the tooth often gets swollen and sore, causing mild to moderate pain.
The gum edges are also susceptible to infection as tiny particles of food and bacteria can collect there, even when the area is thoroughly cleaned several times a day. Roundhead toothbrushes and antiseptic mouthwash can help prevent this from happening, but if your wisdom tooth does get infected you will require a course of antibiotics to completely clear the pain and infection.
If you suffer from recurrent wisdom tooth infections, or your wisdom teeth are proving particularly difficult to get through, your dentist may recommend surgical intervention to remove the wisdom teeth altogether.