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Wisdom Tooth Cavity: Symptoms and Treatments

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If you're like a lot of people, you've probably had a cavity or two in your lifetime. The National Health Portal of India notes that in most developing low-income countries, the prevalence rate of dental caries is high and more than 90% of caries is untreated. An estimated 5 billion people worldwide suffer from dental caries. Though they are preventable, cavities are still very common.You can get cavities on any part of your tooth and on any one of your teeth — even your wisdom teeth (if you have them). Here's what you need to know about a wisdom tooth cavity.

Wait — You Can Get Cavities in Your Wisdom Teeth?

Many people don't think about their wisdom teeth, aka the third molars. That might be because a lot of people don't have their wisdom teeth. A study in the Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics revealed that dentists recommend wisdom tooth extraction for about 59% of patients. The Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research notes that the surgical extraction of impacted mandibular third molars is one of the most commonly performed procedures in oral surgery.One of the main reasons dentists recommend taking out wisdom teeth is because they often cause trouble. The third molars are the last teeth to arrive on the scene. According to the Indian Dental Association, the wisdom teeth (third molars) erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. Sometimes there is no room in a person's mouth for all the permanent teeth. If this happens, the wisdom teeth may get stuck (or impacted) beneath the gum and may need to be removed. Overcrowding of the teeth is one of the reasons people get braces during their teenage years.An impacted wisdom tooth can be more likely to get a cavity. When a tooth is stuck in the gums, it's possible for food to get stuck near it. The National Health Portal of India explains that tooth surfaces are rough, uneven and a favourite place for cavity-causing bacteria to hide and where leftover food also gets accumulated.Another reason why wisdom teeth might develop cavities is that it can be more difficult to clean them. It can be tricky to reach all the way to the back of the mouth with a toothbrush or piece of floss.

What to Do If You Have a Wisdom Tooth Cavity

If you get a cavity on any other tooth, your dentist will most likely recommend filling the cavity to restore the tooth. According to the Indian Dental Association, a root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected.However, with a wisdom tooth cavity, it's a slightly different story. E-Dant Seva explains that your dentist will usually refer you to a specialist (oral surgeon) for the extraction of any wisdom teeth that appear to be deeply impacted. For some, the treatment involves a straightforward extraction under local anaesthetic. If it isn't, they may still recommend extraction, depending on the condition and placement of the tooth. According to a research study published in the Journal of Dental Sciences, around 16% third molars were extracted due to dental caries.If your wisdom teeth have fully erupted in your mouth and aren't stuck in the gums, it's possible that your dentist may be able to fill and restore the tooth just like any other. That's why it's important to see them for regular checkups, so they can assess the health of all your teeth and detect any cavities.

Should You Keep Your Wisdom Teeth?

What if you're not dealing with any cavities in your wisdom teeth and your dentist hasn't recommended extracting them? Is it worth keeping your third molars then?If you still have your wisdom teeth and this concerns you, bring it up to your dentist at your next checkup. Your dentist might recommend leaving the teeth alone if they aren't causing you any issues. Your dentist will continue to closely monitor your wisdom teeth during your dental visits, as cavities or other problems could come up later.If your wisdom teeth haven't come in properly, your dentist might recommend removing them. They'll discuss your options for wisdom tooth removal with you and let you know what to expect during the procedure. And if you develop a wisdom tooth cavity, rest assured that your dentist will help you find the right solution to keep your mouth healthy in that scenario, too.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.