Feeling something uncomfortable at the back of your mouth? Oral pain has such a wide variety of causes that we definitely can’t give you the answer in a blog post – you’ll need to see your dentist to get to the root of the problem. But if you have wisdom teeth, you have a clue as to what the issue might be.
Wisdom teeth are some of the most commonly extracted, because they can lead to a slew of dental problems, including impaction. Since they no longer have much use in chewing or biting, pulling these troublesome teeth is typically the best route. Wondering why your wisdom teeth exist, and what you should do about them?
Answers to some of our most commonly received third molar question are below. If you’re experiencing pain and you think a wisdom tooth might be the culprit, schedule a consultation ASAP to find relief.
Human life has changed significantly in the modern era, and our bodies haven’t always kept up, evolution-wise. Thus, we’re left with structures that no longer serve a biological purpose, but which still remain in our bodies. These are known as vestigial organs. Anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth have taken this route. Long ago, the human ancestor ate rough, fibrous foods like leaves, roots, nuts, and raw meat, which required more chewing power. The teeth became very worn over a lifetime, so more teeth was a helpful advantage. Today, we have silverware, stovetops, and a million other technological aids that keep us from needing to gnash leaves to a pulp.
Another reason wisdom teeth can feel like a surprise is because they don’t erupt until post-adolescence, when the rest of the body has typically stopped developing. Baby teeth and permanent teeth erupt in a regular fashion. But wisdom teeth are the final set of molars to develop, so they don’t show up until a bit later. Most people see their wisdom teeth erupting between 17-25 – and this typical coming-of-age period lends the teeth their moniker.
Some of us never get wisdom teeth, while others get anywhere from 1-4 (and, in some unfortunate but rare cases, more than four). Scientists still don’t know why the number of teeth per person varies.
Because the human jaw has become smaller over many centuries, but third molars still remain, it’s easy for those teeth to become impacted or blocked by the surrounding teeth or gums. Essentially, there’s just not enough room for them to erupt. When the third molars begin attempting to take their places in the mouth, this can set off a chain reaction of problems. Teeth may be partially impacted, with a the crown showing through the gums, or fully impacted, with the tooth remaining beneath the gums. When teeth are impacted, they may grow:
These issues can lead to more significant dental problems, including damage to other teeth, cysts, heightened risk of cavities, and increased risk of gum disease.
Although it can be difficult to see the back of your mouth, if you’re experiencing oral pain or jaw problems, use a mirror to take a look and see if any of these other symptoms show up. The areas at the back of our mouths are prone to dental problems in any case, as molars have varied surfaces and tend to have cracks and fissures. Plus, they’re more difficult to reach with toothbrush and floss. But wisdom teeth are even more vulnerable, particularly if they’re partially impacted. If you have wisdom teeth, watch for the following:
What’s next for your wisdom teeth? We will take x-rays and determine the best course of action. If this involves extraction, don’t stress: the sooner these teeth are gone, the better you’ll feel. Get in touch with any questions or to schedule an appointment.