Just like saying thank you, washing our hands or asking for things followed by a “please”, brushing our teeth at least three times a day is one of the basic rules that we have followed for practically as long as we can remember. Oral hygiene is one of the pillars that support a healthy lifestyle. Visiting the dentist or wearing orthodontics are some of the steps most of us have gone through with the same goal: that our teeth enjoy good health, that sometimes it can be seen altered with the fall and exit of these small bone pieces. In this sense, those known as wisdom teeth are the last to make an appearance.
“Each type of tooth has an eruption period. It is true that, For the third molars or wisdom teeth, that period is delayed by about five or seven years from the moment the permanent second molars have erupted.“, Explain Oscar Castro Kingdompresident of the General Council of Dentists, who adds that for these molars to come out, “need sufficient space at the level of the mandible and maxillary bone”.
Despite the widespread belief that wisdom teeth are useless, the truth is that They fulfill the same function as the rest of the molars, that is, to chew and grind food.. “When they are healthy and well erupted, the person has three molars in each hemiarch (half of a dental arch), which increases the chewing surface,” Castro details.
Therefore, experts do not recommend removing third molars at all costs, as it will only be necessary in certain situations. Castro clarifies that there are two major causes that justify the extraction of these teeth: “One of them is for presenting a deep cavitybecause it can even cause pain when reaching the pulp of the tooth (soft tissue located inside the tooth) or being close to it”. The other reason, which affects more people, is the lack of space, “which can cause the third molar to push the molar that is next to it, and can damage its root”, indicates the expert. In some cases, he adds, there is so little space that the wisdom tooth “fails to erupt and is retained in the bone, something that can generate a cyst”.
Why can wisdom teeth become infected?
The main infection related to third molars is the so-called pericoronitis., an inflammation of the soft tissues that surround the crown of the tooth when it is in its eruption process. Factors such as that there is not enough space for the tooth to come out or that it breaks in at an angle and collides with the tooth next to it mean that when the third molar perforates the gum, food scraps get into the hole. Poor hygiene thus triggers an infectious process.
The expert consulted by CuídatePlus points out the main symptoms that indicate that there has been an infection of the wisdom teeth:
- Jaw pain.
- Swelling and edema in the cheek.
- Swelling of the gum around the wisdom tooth.
- Bad breath.
- Bad mouth taste.
- Submandibular adenopathy (inflamed ganglion).
Castro warns that in extreme cases, may be associated with malaise and fever; and that sometimes, “the patient suffers from trismus (limitation in mouth opening) and difficulty in chewing”. Regarding the gum, the dentist emphasizes that, locally, “redness and swelling occurs, usually limited to the area around the third molar. Sometimes the infection causes pus.”
Can an infected wisdom tooth be removed?
In general terms, extraction is not indicated in the acute phase of the infectious picture. However, “the professional may choose to perform drainage or debridementrecommend the use of mouthwashes and prescribe systemic medication if he deems it appropriate”, clarifies Castro.
How to treat the infection
The infectious process will be treated as required by each situation, depending on whether or not there is an associated abscess, the patient’s age and their general medical condition. “The use of analgesics and anti-inflammatories is almost always prescribed, in addition to local measures such as mouthwashes (for example, chlorhexidine or saline). Whether or not antibiotics are prescribed is determined by the presence of fever, general malaise, inflammation, cellulitis or trismus,” Castro points out.
Finally, the expert recalls that “It is very important that the patient consult the dentist and not self-medicate. The definitive treatment, normally, is usually the extraction of the molar”.