It’s odd to think about, but some of our biggest problems in life can come from things our bodies grow naturally. The appendix and gallbladder are some of the first organs people think of in this regard, but wisdom teeth can also cause all sorts of problems that are best prevented before they begin.
Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that typically manifest in one’s late teens or early twenties. They’re also somewhat “clumsy” organs that can grow in misaligned directions, causing damage to their surrounding teeth, the jawbone, and even nerves.
Generally speaking, the main problem with wisdom teeth is their potential to become impacted. This is when they become enclosed within soft tissue or the jaw bone, or partially break through the gum. This leaves an opening around the tooth that can become infected with bacteria, causing swelling and pain. Wisdom teeth are also difficult to clean and maintain, as they are located so far in the back of the mouth. As a result, they’re more prone to decay.
There are four different ways in which wisdom teeth can become impacted:
- Mesial Impaction: The most common form of impaction, this occurs when the teeth become angled too far toward the front of the mouth.
- Vertical Impaction: When the wisdom teeth are growing in at a good angle, yet there is simply not enough room for them in the mouth.
- Horizontal Impaction: This occurs when the wisdom teeth are lying on their side.
- Distal Impaction: When the wisdom teeth are growing toward the back of the mouth.
- Soft Tissue Impaction: When the wisdom teeth have erupted through the gum.
- Bony Impaction: This is a condition in which the wisdom teeth have emerged through the gum while still remaining within the bone.
None of these conditions are very pleasant, to say the least. And if left untreated for too long, the problems resulting from these conditions only get worse, and the treatment more complicated and costly.
The most common problems that result from impacted wisdom teeth are:
- Pain, swelling, and stiffness of the jaw
- Damage to other teeth
- Gum infections
- Tooth decay
What To Expect When Your Wisdom Teeth Are Extracted
When your wisdom teeth are extracted professionally, anywhere from 1 to 4 molars will be removed. A small incision will be made through the gum-line before your wisdom teeth are extracted, and stitches will likely be required afterward.
For post-operative care, be sure to do the following:
- Get plenty of rest. Avoid physical exertion, and allow your body to heal.
- Watch out for too much bleeding. It is normal to have some bleeding here and there following the removal of your wisdom teeth, however, if you see dark red clots of blood in your mouth, that is something that should be fixed. Apply pressure to the site of the bleeding with clean gauze or a paper towel for 45 minutes. If the bleeding continues, contact your dentist right away.
- Eat soft foods packed with nutrition until you can comfortably handle your normal diet.
- Keep the surgical site clean.