Wisdom tooth is known as Mandibular Third Molar. Wisdom tooth is located distally away from second molar. In permanent dentition, no other tooth is located posterior to Wisdom Tooth i.e. it is the last tooth. One gets 4 wisdom teeth and every quadrant has one wisdom tooth. Wisdom teeth usually fully grow in the mouth between the ages of 16-25 years with 17-21 years band being most common. Wisdom Tooth drives the name of wisdom tooth by relating it with this age as it is generally believed that one gets wisdom by this age and therefore it became the saying that when these third mandibular molars grow in, one gets the wisdom thereby leading these teeth to be called as wisdom teeth. As stated above, commonly we have 4 wisdom teeth but sometimes one or two wisdom teeth don’t grow in. This is called as Hypodontia. Also in some cases, there is extra tooth i.e. the number is more than 4, in that case it is called supernumerary tooth.
Wisdom teeth (Third Mandibular Molars) straightway grow in as permanent teeth and in baby teeth there are no third mandibular molars. The wisdom teeth act the same way as other molars, with principal functionality of grinding during mastication of food i.e. chewing of food. In current times the growing in of wisdom teeth creates many problems for a person because over the centuries, the eating habits of man have changed from raw food to well cooked food, which requires much less effort to chew and due to this fact of evolution of man, the jaw size has decreased. This decreased jaw size creates problem for the wisdom teeth to grow in because of reduced space for their eruption and due to this they put pressure on the front molars by pushing them. This pushing adversely affects the other teeth which lead to pain and swelling. This condition is called impaction of wisdom teeth and to get rid of these problems, the dentist’s advice the patients to get them extracted.
Impaction of Wisdom Teeth
A wisdom tooth is treated as Impacted in condition when it does not have enough space to grow in and remains buried in the gums due to decreased jaw size. The impaction of Wisdom Teeth is of different types. These are stated as under:
Mesioangular Impaction – This type of impaction is most common. This condition occurs when the wisdom tooth is angulated towards the midline.
Vertical Impaction – Wisdom tooth is called as vertically impacted when it is straight but does not have sufficient space to erupt. This is second most common type of impaction for wisdom teeth.
Distoangular Impaction - This condition occurs when the wisdom tooth is angulated towards the back of the teeth. Distoangular wisdom tooth is easy to extract in maxilla but difficult in the mandible.
Horizontal Impaction – When the wisdom tooth is lying horizontally at 90 degrees towards the root of second molars, it is called to horizontally impacted. This type of impaction of wisdom teeth is least common.
Bony Impaction - If the wisdom tooth has insufficient space to erupt and is completely inside the bone it is called as bony impaction of wisdom tooth.
Soft Tissue Impaction – When the wisdom tooth grows out of bone but has not come out of soft tissue then it is called Soft Tissue Impaction of Wisdom Tooth.
This is another condition related with wisdom tooth is Pericoronitis. It happens when wisdom tooth is not fully erupted and the gum tissue is covering the occlusal surface (chewing surface). This soft tissue flap is called as Operculum. It is very difficult to clean the tooth with the operculum as the food gets impacted in it causing the infection in the gum around the crown of the tooth. This infection of gums is called as pericoronitis. This is a common problem which gets exaggerated by biting from the opposite tooth as it causes the trauma to the operculum. In the event of persistence of this condition, the dentist recommends the extraction of the wisdom tooth. The most common symptoms of pericoronitis are the swelling, redness of the area, difficulty in opening the mouth, bad taste, smell and pain that can go till neck. If left untreated it can cause severe infection.