Why do you have wisdom teeth?
Anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth were an evolutionary development that were required by our ancestors. It is thought that they needed these extra molars to help chew and digest their diet of rough foods.
A typical adult can have up to 32 teeth. Most of these develop when you are a child however the wisdom teeth (third molars) will appear when you are older; usually when you are between the ages of 17 and 25, although they can appear when you are younger or older than that as well. It is often the case that people do not have room for a full set of 32 teeth. A typical person will have room for around 28 teeth and so the development of wisdom teeth can cause difficulties when they push through the gum.
Do you need to have your wisdom teeth removed?
It is not mandatory to have your wisdom removed. If your mouth has enough room they will be able to push through your gums and will not cause you any problems. It is also common for wisdom teeth not to push through the gum at all and can simply shift underneath the gum. You may experience some discomfort as wisdom teeth move into position, below or through the gum, but once the tooth is in its position this discomfort should disappear.
In the past it was more common for dentists to remove wisdom. Nowadays it is generally agreed that if your wisdom teeth are not causing any problems or discomfort they will be left intact. If however your wisdom teeth are causing pain or discomfort or decay then your dentist may decide it is best to remove them.
What are impacted wisdom teeth?
If your wisdom tooth is stuck against an adjacent tooth your wisdom tooth is said to be impacted. This occurs when a wisdom tooth attempts to push through the gum even when there is not enough room in your mouth. This can cause the wisdom tooth to come in at an angle and put pressure on the tooth beside it.
Your impacted wisdom tooth can be fully or partially impacted. A fully impacted wisdom tooth is one that has not broken through the gums. A partially impacted wisdom tooth is one that has slightly erupted (broken through the gum). There are four types of impacted wisdom teeth depending on the angle they are affecting your mouth:
- Distoangular Impaction occurs when the wisdom tooth tilts backwards.
- Vertical Impaction occurs when the wisdom tooth has no tilt.
- Mesioangular Impaction occurs when the tooth is tilted forward. This is the most common form of tooth impaction.
- Horizontal Impaction occurs when the wisdom tooth is tilted horizontally.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems to your dental health. They can damage your other teeth, cause cysts and because they are generally harder to clean can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
How are impacted wisdom teeth treated?
If your wisdom tooth is causing pain or decay then your dentist may suggest that you have the problem tooth removed. The difficulty of removing your wisdom tooth depends on the shape of the roots and the position of the tooth. You dentist will be able to use x-rays to examine the position of your wisdom tooth and advise you on the difficulty of removing it. It is generally easier to remove upper wisdom teeth than lower ones and the procedure may take place in your dental practice or you may be referred to a oral surgeon. A wisdom tooth extraction requires a local anaesthetic, like you would receive for a filling and you may experience numbness in your mouth until it wears off.
Teeth straightening by cosmetic dentists in Notting Hill
Unfortunately it can often be the case that developing wisdom teeth can push and shift the position of your teeth, making them crooked or overlapped. If you feel that your smile is not as straight as it used to be then you may be interested in orthodontic treatments which can help straighten and improve your smile. Developments in dentistry have introduced a number of different discrete braces that can help straighten your smile without people noticing.
Orthodontic treatments can also be given in coordination with other dental procedures to give you a full Smile Makeover. Dental advancements have greatly improved the dental treatments available so there really is no need to suffer in silence, or feel embarassed about your smile. If you are interested in having a Smile Makeover, getting your teeth straightened or are concerned about impacted wisdom teeth in the Notting Hill area then please contact the Number 18 Dental clinic. Our experienced team will be happy to help advise you on treatments or book you in for a consultation in our warm and calming practice.