When do wisdom teeth normally grow and what should I expect?
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come through and usually begin emerging between the ages of 17 and 25. There are usually 4 wisdom teeth that erupt, one in each corner of the mouth, but this can be variable from person to person. There may be some tenderness and discomfort as the tooth is erupting but sometimes the area can get infected and there may be associated pain and swellings. This is when you should book an appointment with your dentist to further assess the area and see what treatment options are available to you.
What can I do to help with a sore wisdom tooth?
There are some home care tips to help with wisdom tooth pain that you can carry out. These include:
- Warm salt water rinses
- Good oral hygiene – using single tufted brushes to clean the area (these can be bought online e.g. amazon, at the supermarket and sometimes at dental practices)
- Pain relievers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be used within the recommended doses
- Ice packs to help reduce swelling
- Visit your dentist for further advice and treatment options
What are the signs and symptoms of a wisdom tooth infection?
Wisdom tooth infection (also known as pericoronitits) is when the gums around the wisdom teeth become inflamed and swollen. Pain and swelling are the most common symptoms but you may have any of the following symptoms:
- Swelling of the gum around the wisdom tooth
- Difficulty opening your jaw
- Bad taste
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should carry out the home-care advice recommended earlier and visit your dentist. They will further assess the situation, and possibly take x-rays, before providing you with all the treatment options available tailored to your particular circumstance. X-rays can be useful as they show if there is infection or decay as well as the way in which the wisdom tooth is erupting. If it’s erupting at an angle, and is therefore stuck, this is known as an impacted wisdom tooth.
When do wisdom teeth need taking out?
Under the current UK guidelines, wisdom teeth can only be removed under certain circumstances. These include:
- a second episode of wisdom tooth infection (pericoronitis) – this means that after a first episode you should use the local measures described above to treat the tooth/ gums
- Decay that’s too extensive to be treated with a filling
- Infection of the nerve of the tooth that can’t be treated
- Any other spreading infection
- Fracture of the tooth
Some wisdom teeth can be taken out by your usual dentist. However, other cases can be more complex and require referral to specialists in oral surgery. The difficulty of tooth removal depends on the angle your tooth is coming out, its shape and how close it is to the nerves in your jaw.