Wisdom teeth are commonly known as the third molars. They are four in number and are located at the far end of the jaws.
They are not different from other teeth, except that they take long to develop—usually between 17 to 25 years. As a result, many people may not realise that they do not have wisdom teeth.
When these teeth are covered by the gum, they cannot be seen with the naked eye, requiring a person to undergo a dental X-ray.
Many times, however, wisdom teeth do not have room to grow properly, the reason many people opt to remove them. When a wisdom tooth does not develop in its normal vertical position, it is referred to as an impacted or trapped tooth.
A wisdom tooth that has not come out yet is not necessarily impacted. It could be because it is still in the developing stages and as time goes on, it may align itself in the right position, and also be visible to the naked eye.
An impacted tooth can result in infection, decay of adjacent teeth or gum disease.
A wisdom tooth may develop when it is in a diagonal or horizontal shape. When this happens, food gets into the gum and may cause an infection, swelling or pain. The poor alignment of an impacted wisdom tooth is likely to damage other adjacent teeth. This is why dentists recommend their removal.
Exposure to bacteria
Usually, many people find it difficult to brush their last molar teeth properly, as most brushes may not reach the far end of their jaws. This leaves the teeth exposed to bacteria that are likely to damage the teeth and cause cavity and other oral infections.
In such cases, however, dentists do not recommend root canal as the roots of most wisdom teeth is fused, making it difficult to perform the procedure.
But if a dentist recommends the removal of a wisdom tooth to avoid further damage to the rest of the teeth, a dental x-ray will be necessary to study the anatomy of the dental structure and the affected tooth in particular.
This helps to reduce the trauma that may occur in the process of removing an affected tooth
However, the key to preserving wisdom teeth is maintaining good oral hygiene and having your teeth professionally cleaned at least twice a year.
The writer is a dentist
SOURCE: Daily Monitor