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07 Jan

Wisdom teeth – How to manage an ‘age-old’ problem


It’s a frequent topic of conversation when people talk about their teeth. And for many young adults wisdom teeth eruption is simply a rite of passage. However, it’s important to understand how to manage these often-unwanted intruders when they do appear. 

Some people may not even be aware they have a wisdom tooth issue, particularly if they are not receiving regular check-ups. Symptoms aren’t always present and up to 70pc of wisdom teeth are impacted. 

Here’s a brief guide on Wisdom Teeth, and how to manage an ‘age-old’ problem.  

What Are Wisdom Teeth? 

  • Wisdom teeth are sometimes referred to as the ‘third molar’ and are the last teeth to emerge usually between the ages of 17 and 25. Not everybody gets wisdom teeth, some people can have up to two on top and bottom jaws.  
  • We have to look deep into the past to understand the function of these teeth which were used by ancestors to grind down bone and chew extremely tough food. Extensive tooth loss in primitive generations meant there was plenty of room for them if they appeared.  
  • In this day and age, there is no great need for wisdom teeth due to the preservation of our other molars through dental hygiene and professional treatment. 
  • Due to a general lack of room for wisdom teeth, they frequently become ‘impacted’ growing in at awkward angles. 

What are impacted Wisdom Teeth? 

Wisdom teeth can be impacted in a number of different ways. Dentists use the following terminology: 

  • Mesial impaction: The most common impaction meaning the wisdom tooth is angled forward, towards the front of the mouth. 
  • Vertical impaction: This means the wisdom tooth is coming in relatively straight but can’t emerge fully through the gum line, due to a lack of room in the mouth. 
  • Distal impaction: This occurs when the wisdom tooth is angled backwards. 
  • Soft tissue impaction: This happens when the wisdom tooth emerges through the jawbone but has failed to come through the gum line completely. 
  • Bony (hard tissue) impaction: This occurs when the tooth is able to come through the gum line but is blocked by the overlying bone. 
  • Horizontal impaction: The least common type of impaction where the wisdom tooth is emerging at 90 degrees sideways, pushing onto the second molar. 

What are the symptoms of impacted Wisdom Teeth? 

In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth cause no pain and present no problems at all. However, in problematic cases, they can cause toothache or infection. The following symptoms may also occur: 

  • Swollen, tender and bleeding gums. 
  • Jaw swelling and pain. 
  • Swollen glands in shoulder and neck. 
  • Difficulty in opening mouth. 
  • Headaches. 
  • Foul breath. 
  • Unpleasant taste when eating. 

What can happen if I ignore my Wisdom Teeth issue? 

Unfortunately for those people with problematic wisdom teeth, the issue does not simply go away. It can have numerous knock-on effects including: 

  • Gum disease or infections 
  • Cysts and tumours 
  • Damage to and realignment of adjacent teeth 
  • Tooth decay

What shall I do if I’m concerned? 

  • If you’re encountering any issues with your Wisdom Teeth its important to seek professional advice and prevent serious issues further down the line. 
  • Here at Maida Smiles we will carry out a full a thorough assessment, including an x-ray of your mouth to confirm the position of your wisdom teeth and recommend treatments which may be appropriate. 

What can be done to treat troublesome Wisdom Teeth? 

  • Removing wisdom teeth brings little benefit unless they are causing complications. However, for partially emerged wisdom teeth (soft tissue impaction), additions or modifications to your oral health care routine may be recommended to reduce risk of future problems. 
  • For wisdom teeth causing major complications or pain, removal may become an option. This is a relatively common procedure which doesn’t usually last beyond 20 minutes.  
  • Wisdom tooth removal is usually performed under local anaesthetic (which numbs the area of your mouth being worked on). 

Call 020 3583 9809 or visit our website at to schedule your initial appointment and find out if this is the right treatment for you