Problems with wisdom teeth primarily include pain and discomfort, infections, gum disease and tooth decay. Some of these are due to the difficulty brushing so far back in the mouth. Brushing with a slim, long-handled toothbrush such as Colgate® Slim Soft™ can help to prevent these problems. Other serious effects of impacted wisdom teeth occur when cysts form below the teeth. These cysts can cause loss of bone in the jaw, and put pressure on the jaw's nerves.
Problems with wisdom teeth usually end with their removal. Dentists often prefer to remove wisdom teeth when patients are in their late teens or early 20s, before they cause problems. At this age, wisdom teeth's roots have not solidified in the jaw bone, and are easier to remove than in older patients. Removing wisdom teeth later in life also carries a slightly higher risk of damage to a major nerve in the jaw, called the inferior alveolar nerve. Younger patients often recover from sedation faster, as well.
Adolescents wearing braces or other orthodontic appliances, according to Busaidy, often have their wisdom teeth removed at the end of their treatment. This is because emerging wisdom teeth can alter tooth alignment after they have been straightened.
So, what is a wisdom tooth? It has nothing to do with growing wiser – only growing older. If your wisdom teeth give you pain or discomfort, see your dentist. Early treatment greatly reduces your risk of bigger problems later.
If you've had or need to have your wisdom teeth extracted, find out more about wisdom teeth recovery in the Colgate Oral Care Resources.