Third molars

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, usually come in at the end of adolescence or by one’s mid-twenties. They sometimes come in later, or not at all.

When should a wisdom tooth be removed?

When wisdom teeth are properly aligned, they can be very useful for chewing food. But when they cause issues in your mouth, it is perfectly safe to have them removed.

In some cases, the wisdom tooth has erupted but it’s covered by a flap of gum, called an operculum. An operculectomy, which entails removing the flap, can be performed to avoid having to extract the tooth.

Surgery is the preferred option when the tooth is fully or partially impacted in the jawbone. Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to the following problems:

  • Infection
  • Swelling of the gums
  • Development of a cyst or benign tumour

To avoid future complications or damage to adjacent teeth, removing the wisdom tooth is advised.

Possible complications:

  • Alignment problems
  • Crowding or damaging second molars
  • A partially-impacted tooth is more likely to develop a cavity or gum disease

At any age, third molars can suddenly cause a series of problems, even if they were previously asymptomatic (impacted or not).

Pain associated with wisdom teeth

  • Localized or spreading pain, often cyclical
  • Painful, swollen, red gums in the back of the mouth
  • Infection
  • Pressure or sharp pain felt in the joint located in front of the ear
  • Persistent bad taste in mouth
  • Presence of pus or a lump
  • Pain in cheeks, stiff jaw

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