Wisdom teeth are usually the last teeth to show through the gums, when people are in their late teens or early twenties.
Sometimes as the wisdom teeth emerge , a small infection can occur in the gum immediately surrounding the tooth. This infection is called ‘pericoronitis’ and is a result of plaque and bacteria becoming trapped between the tooth and the surrounding gum.
If the back of the jaw doesn’t have enough space for the wisdom teeth to come through, as is sometimes the case, the teeth become wedged in, or “impacted”. Some impacted teeth may cause severe problems, while others may remain buried and cause no trouble. Problems caused by impacted wisdom teeth are:
- damage to nearby molars
- cavities caused by food becoming trapped
If your wisdom teeth are causing you problems, it may be recommended that they be removed. Removing wisdom teeth is a very common procedure and should be done as soon as a problem starts to occur.
The method used for extraction varies for each tooth and person. Some teeth can be simply removed under local anaesthesia like any other extraction. Impacted (trapped) teeth will often require a minor surgical procedure to lift the tooth out of the surrounding bone and gum. Surgery may be performed under local anaesthesia or general anaesthesia.