Wisdom Teeth Warning Signs: All You Need To Know
Wisdom teeth tend to emerge in early adulthood and can cause some pain as they push through the gums. Anyone who has experienced the discomfort of wisdom teeth will be all too familiar with this sensation.
“For many of us, the arrival of wisdom teeth can be both disruptive and painful” says Dr Paul O’Dwyer, group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland.
“By knowing the warning signs of a problem wisdom tooth, however, it is possible to relieve discomfort and treat any issues early on. Thanks to modern medicine, the removal of wisdom teeth is now a straight-forward and largely pain free procedure.”
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What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, often referred to as third molars, are the last teeth to arrive in the mouth. Most adults have 32 teeth, including four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of the mouth.
Wisdom teeth typically erupt after the body has finished its development, between the ages of 18 and 24. The number of wisdom teeth can vary from person to person, and in some cases, they may not appear at all.
It is common for wisdom teeth to cause some discomfort and pain, mainly due to a lack of space in the mouth. Where there is not sufficient room, the wisdom teeth can erupt at an angle or only partially push through the gum. This is what is known as an impacted wisdom tooth.
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What Are the Warning Signs Of Wisdom Teeth?
Not all wisdom teeth will cause issues, even if they are impacted. Where pain arises, however, it is important to visit a dentist as soon as possible.
Signs and symptoms of a problem wisdom tooth can include:
- Swollen and tender gums
- Pain when biting or chewing
- Soreness at back of mouth
- Difficulty opening mouth
- Bad taste in mouth
- Sleep disturbance
How To Relieve The Pain Of Wisdom Teeth
When wisdom teeth become impacted, your dentist will usually advise that they be removed to provide long-term relief.
As an initial response to wisdom tooth pain, the following home remedies can help:
Rinsing the mouth with salt water or a medicated rinse such as Corsodyl can help reduce bacteria in the gums and thus tackle the source of pain. Make sure to carefully follow directions for use.
Over the counter pain relief such as ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation of the gums and the throbbing pain that comes with it. Follow directions for recommended dose to help ease discomfort.
Numbing dental gel
A numbing dental gel that contains the active ingredient benzocaine can help reduce feelings in the gums, thus numbing the pain.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
If you are experiencing severe pain or discomfort from your wisdom teeth, your dentist will assess whether or not they need to be removed.
An X-ray of the mouth will give the dentist a clearer picture of the position of the teeth. If your dentist decides that you do need to have the procedure, you will usually be given a local/ general anaesthetic or sedation to numb the area around the tooth. The main aim is to safely remove the tooth, while keeping the patient as comfortable as possible.You may experience some swelling and discomfort for a few days after the tooth has been removed.
If left untreated, some problematic wisdom teeth can eventually lead to further issues, such as:
- Damage to other teeth
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Jaw problems
How To Prevent Wisdom Teeth From Becoming Infected
Although it is impossible to stop wisdom teeth coming through, maintaining a good oral health routine will help to prevent infection.
Ideally, try to:
- Brush twice per day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste,
- Floss daily,
- Drink plenty of water,
- Avoid sugary snacks.
Dr Paul O’Dwyer BDS, MSc is group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland, a new Irish-owned network of established dental practices nationwide. For further information, visit www.dentalcareireland.ie