Drs S & N Waddell Dental Practice

0121 427 7727      

Wisdom teeth

As a species we would be better off without wisdom teeth. They belong to prehistory when Homo sapiens had much larger jaws and our food was much tougher. Some people are lucky enough not to have any, in some they never emerge and in the rest of us they will  give us some pain when they try to emerge into our mouth.


We use the word erupt for the emergence of a tooth and the normal eruption dates for wisdom teeth are between 18 and 21 years of age although they can decide to erupt much later.


If your jaw is large enough, you will gain 4 extra teeth at the back of your mouth that are difficult to look after. If it is too small, one, two or all of them will end up wedged in a half way position, tilted in one direction or the other.


Keeping a tooth clean at the back of the mouth is hard enough but it approaches impossible if they are tilted to one side with a little flap of gum over the corners.


In essence this inability to clean them causes the problems. It starts out as a little infection under that flap of gum and within a very short time the infection surrounds the wisdom tooth. We call this pericoronitis which just means "infection around the crown". This is one of the great uses of Latin, as my patient is already aware he or she has an infection around the crown of their tooth and would not be impressed if I simply tell them the obvious!!


So at this earliest of stages we could redouble our cleaning efforts and the infection might just subside. We could consider a mouthwash like CORSODYL or better still we could apply CORSODYL GEL to the area carefully with a new toothbrush. BUT.... BUT wisdom teeth can get serious, especially in the lower jaw. Contact us, see if you can pop in for advice and a visual check.


If the position of your tooth was not too bad then improving cleaning may do the trick. [until the next time].


This is where we need to monitor what is happening VERY carefully.  The infection can slip into the tissues around the tooth and we then start to experience tightness in the muscle just behind the tooth, the gum will be quite swollen and painful. The little lymph node under the corner of our jaw will be slightly enlarged and tender. This is an infection that requires treatment with antibiotics as soon as possible. Really the advice is immediate! CONTACT US!!


I do not want to be melodramatic but before the advent of antibiotics, wisdom teeth were life threatening.


So a short course of antibiotics will suppress the problem but the tooth and its little flap is still where it started and so there is every likelihood that it will happen again.


When I first qualified, we did not mess about. These useless troublesome teeth were extracted. Now we have to demonstrate a series of infections and because extraction can be difficult, we will often refer you to the Dental department of your local hospital.


When we refer, we do our best to choose where you are seen and usually which of our favourite Consultants will look after you. There will be a choice of local or general anaesthesia which we will advise on and you may have to stay in hospital overnight.


As a species we would be better off without wisdom teeth.

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