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Dec 27, 2016

Wisdom teeth

Archaeological findings have proven that our ancestors used to have bigger and more powerful jaws. With time, these gradually became smaller, similar to our jaws presently, appears we are developing smaller jaws, most likely due to the shift in our way of living and eating. While we now have smaller jaws and less space for teeth to grow, the size and number of teeth forming have not changed. Wisdom teeth are the last to erupt and often will not have the space needed.

Side view: Occasionally, wisdom teeth are completely buried in the bone. In that case it is sufficient to observe the situation on a regular basis (left). Upper wisdom tooth (right) has fully erupted while the lower one hasn’t. Because there is no opposing tooth, we can expect the top tooth to over erupt. This can lead to other problems.

Close up of partly erupted wisdom tooth in lower jaw.

This can give the patient intermittent pain, often without additional symptoms. However, it is difficult to maintain good oral health in the region. Even if the patient doesn’t experience pain, the bacteria has easy access to the crown of the tooth. Lodged food debris can lead to inflamed and swollen gums, in the area. Antibiotics or painkillers can provide relief to acute symptoms, but cannot resolve the underlying cause.

X-rays are vital in detecting problems with wisdom teeth. In this case the patient waited too long to get a check up and there is a caries attack on the neighbouring tooth.

At Snö we have the latest low radiation 3D x-ray (cone beam) to identify and examine impacted teeth. With today’s dental techniques and anaesthetic drugs available, it is possible to remove wisdom teeth in a painless manner. Left in for too long there is an increased risk of caries and bone loss.

Things to consider
The area around the wisdom tooth is often difficult to keep clean. This can lead to gum problems caused by the increased amount of plaque and bacteria build-up. Pockets will develop and the risk of infections around the wisdom tooth increases. If bone loss occurs, it is important to have the tooth extracted.

The risk is minimal if the tooth is completely buried in the bone. It only requires regular observation using x-rays. Occasionally, a cyst could develop around the buried tooth. If the cyst grows too big, thus affecting the bone negatively, it must be removed.

Generally speaking, it is a good idea to remove wisdom teeth early, especially those that potentially can lead to problems later on. If a dentist is in doubt whether to extract or not it is imperative to keep it under close observation.

Crowding of the front lower teeth is common with age (left). Many people (and dentists) believe this is caused by wisdom teeth that push the other teeth forward. This is untrue, and we have scientific evidence that removing wisom teeth in such circumstances is unnecessary. A removable orthodontic appliance (Inman Aligner) placed by Dr Gun, has helped this patient regain a corrected, natural smile (right).

The Snö dental team has comprehensive knowledge dealing with problematic wisdom teeth and is adept at fixing any complication related to them. Feel free to contact your dentist if you have any additional questions.