By the time a person reaches around 18 years of age, he or she will usually have 32 teeth; 16 on the top and 16 on the bottom. Each tooth has a particular name and function- the front teeth (incisors, canines and bicuspids) are used for gripping and biting food into smaller pieces and the back teeth (molars) are used to grind food up into manageable pieces suitable for swallowing. The final 4 teeth, called the Third Molars or wisdom teeth, are the last teeth to erupt within the mouth. Wisdom teeth played an important function when humans ate a more primitive diet and needed more teeth.
Today, however, wisdom teeth can be problematic for many people. Wisdom teeth can become impacted or unable to erupt through the gums. A tooth is considered impacted when it does not reach a normal position due to obstruction from another tooth or tissue. When wisdom teeth only partially emerge, a flap of tissue can grow over them creating a breeding ground for bacteria and potential gum disease. When foods and germs get trapped under the flap, gums may become red or swollen, which are signs of infection and/or inflammation. Other than the pain and discomfort, these issues, if not dealt with, can start to affect teeth in front of the wisdom tooth. To make matters worse, wisdom teeth are often tucked in a position that makes them difficult to keep clean and access with one’s toothbrush. Impacted wisdom teeth can also have an unwanted effect on alignment and orthodontic work.
If you find your wisdom teeth are causing any of the aforementioned problems, wisdom tooth extraction may be a solution for ending your symptoms and preventing the possibility of future problems. Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure and can be performed by your dentist in Kelowna and with local anesthesia or oral sedation. There may be some residual bleeding, swelling or bruising but more often than not, people recover quickly and with minimal discomfort.