I get these comments from my patients all the time…
“My wisdom tooth doesn’t hurt me now so why do anything about it?”
“My front teeth used to be straight but my wisdom teeth pushed and made them all crooked”
“My wisdom tooth pushed and created a hole in the tooth in front of it”
… and the truth is …
Wisdom teeth, despite its special name, are just normal teeth. These are the last teeth that come through at the back of your mouth and because of that, there are a lot of problems associated with it. Most people don’t have a big enough jaw to accommodate these last teeth so they often come through partially, or remain inside the jaw bone. If the wisdom tooth erupts partially through the gum, often horizontally, there’s a flap of gum covering it at the back, kind of like a hood. Most of the wisdom tooth pain I saw came from having food stuck under this “hood” and got infected.
Despite what a lot of people think, wisdom teeth don’t “dig” or “push” or actively damage other teeth. Years of research concluded that there’s no evidence to suggest that wisdom teeth cause crowding or crooked teeth.
So why is it such a big deal to remove them?
Most of the damage that occurs inside the mouth relates to bacteria. When a wisdom tooth grew sideway into another tooth, it creates a food trap which harbours a lot of bacteria and causes tooth decay. It’s not uncommon to see that by the time my patients got around to removing their wisdom teeth, they ended up losing the teeth in front of them too due to tooth decay. The biggest shame was that the problem was preventable all along.
Some lucky patients had all their wisdom teeth erupt nicely into the mouth. However, more often than not, my patients can’t clean well inside the mouth that far back. In the end, tooth decay developed on their wisdom teeth anyway and they had to decide whether to keep repairing these teeth or remove them. It’s all about bacteria and cleaning.
Horizontally impacted wisdom tooth creates food trap and infection
So why now and not later?
A hole on the wisdom tooth due to difficulty cleaning the area
If causing damage to teeth next door wasn’t a good enough reason, then pain should be. I could safely say that none of my patients like to be in pain. Wisdom teeth are complicated teeth to remove as they often sit far down inside the jaw bone. A lot of time, we can’t remove them for our patients on the day of consultation, which means chance is, you’ll still be going home with that pain. If wisdom teeth removal were planned earlier, it’s much better for everyone. It means you’re having a procedure done when you are not in pain. You can choose the time to do it so that it’s convenient with your schedule, be it school or work, as well as having appropriate amount of time to recover afterward.
If all my patients turn up to my clinic in pain then they are always going to be in “pain at the dentist” and this is not how dentistry should be in 2016. Active maintenance and prevention are the keys to pain-free dentistry. Pain-free dentistry isn’t just about the dentist, patients have to believe in it too.
To your healthy smile.
Supa Dental, Melton.