Wisdom teeth are usually the very last teeth to erupt and while they generally 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 our mouths at any one time. So if your mouth is already full when your wisdom teeth start coming through, you could be in for a bit of trouble.
Wisdom teeth are situated at the very back of the mouth and if you have enough space for them to come through normally, then you shouldn’t experience any problems other than mild discomfort when they actually cut through. However, if there is limited space for them, they could come through at an unnatural angle, which could damage surrounding 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 most likely 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.
Wisdom teeth are quite large and therefore cutting them may be a painful experience, especially since they don’t necessarily all come at the same time. Wisdom teeth are made up of four sections and many people find that they erupt one corner at a time. This is called pericoronitis. When the wisdom tooth comes through in this way, the gum tissue 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 be prescribed a course of antibiotics to completely clear any infection.
If you suffer from recurrent wisdom tooth infections, or your wisdom teeth are proving particularly difficult to cut through, your dentist may recommend surgical intervention to remove the wisdom teeth altogether.