Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has their wisdom teeth pulled during the course of their lives. Wisdom teeth only need to be extracted if they are causing problems or if they emerge incorrectly.
If you still have your wisdom teeth, you need to know how to care for them. Proper cleaning of these molars using a quality wisdom teeth brush in conjunction with flossing and rinsing will help avoid problems with staining, gum disease and tooth decay.
People who take good care of their wisdom teeth can often maintain them healthy and strong well into their adult years or even for their entire lifetime. Diligence in brushing, flossing and rinsing is key to keeping these molars in peak condition for their duration.
What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth – which are often referred to as “3rd molars” – are generally the last teeth to appear in a person’s mouth. These teeth usually come in between late adolescence and mid-’20s, although it’s not uncommon for them to show up much later in adulthood.
An adult mouth can accommodate a maximum of 32 teeth, including wisdom teeth. Individuals with smaller mouths, however, may only have space for 28. As people are different, not everyone may grow all 32 teeth in their lifetime. This accounts for the wide variety of tooth appearance, health and smiles.
Why are wisdom teeth often problematic?
As permanent teeth begin to grow, they will position themselves in the places they are to go. Some people will find they have adequate space in their mouth to accommodate all 32 teeth without suffering from overcrowding.
Others will have limited space to accommodate only 28, leaving no room for wisdom teeth to grow. As these teeth start breaking through the gum, they may collide with existing teeth, resulting in their coming in at an awkward angle. Such teeth are said to be impacted.
Impacted teeth are difficult to clean at best and irritating at worst, causing gum soreness and swelling which can make it difficult for you to eat or talk.
The swelling can often be relieved by using a saltwater mouthwash; however, this is only a temporary measure to relieve pain and discomfort. People with impacted teeth should talk to their dentist for his recommendation on resolving the problem on a more permanent basis.
Dentists often recommend removing impacted wisdom teeth altogether as a permanent solution to the problem. This will relieve the pain and can also help to prevent issues with your mouth and jaw in the future. If you have persistent jaw pain, you might find that removing the wisdom teeth helps to address the issue.
How are impacted wisdom teeth diagnosed?
Not all wisdom teeth cause problems as they come through. By taking X-rays, your dentist can assess whether there is sufficient space for these teeth to come in without crowding existing teeth in the area. Your dentist may suggest having these teeth removed if:
There is insufficient space for teeth to grow
The teeth show signs of decay
The teeth cause excessive pain and discomfort
Your dentist may start monitoring your wisdom teeth long before you are aware of the issue. This is one reason that regular visits to the dentist can be so beneficial. It will enable your dentist to monitor for health issues and take action before they become painful.
Caring for your wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth that have been retained require diligent brushing and care in order to stay healthy and strong. Lack of proper care can lead to an array of dental problems to include tooth discolouration, gum disease and decay.
As the teeth are right at the back of the mouth, they are more likely to harbour food particles and bacteria. This is why careful brushing is essential. Here are our tips for caring for your wisdom teeth so they don’t become problematic:
Choose the right tools
Oral health care involves having the right tools and being diligent in your brushing, flossing and rinsing on a regular basis.
Toothbrush size, shape and texture all make a difference in the care of your teeth. The size of your brush should be comfortable for the size of your mouth, enabling you to easily reach those back molars which need extra care.
Most dentists recommend a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid hurting the gums. You may be more comfortable using an electric brush while others prefer a manual. However, the time and effort you put into the task are far more important than the tool itself in getting the job done.
Take your time
Putting insufficient time along with maintaining a regular schedule is essential for quality care of your teeth. Most dentists recommend brushing a minimum of three times daily for around two minutes each time.
Excessive brushing can often cause more harm than good as you can destroy tooth enamel or hurt the gums. For this same reason, dentists recommend gentle up-down strokes as opposed to hard side-to-side ones.
Change up your routine
Another secret to successful oral health is to vary the areas you start with to ensure all your teeth get adequate attention and care.
Many people consider tooth brushing a monotonous task and get lazy towards the end of their session. If you always brush the back molars last, they may be lacking in proper care.
Try varying the way you brush your teeth every time so that you don’t miss the same spots over and over again.
What dental tools can enhance care?
A quality toothbrush, toothpaste and floss are must have tools for tooth care. Regular brushing and flossing are key to healthy teeth and gums. Daily brushing and rinsing help to remove food and bacteria that become attached to the surface of your teeth, eating away at the enamel and causing cavities. In addition to a good quality toothbrush, consider the following tools and accessories:
Dental floss: Flossing also removes food particles in difficult to reach areas in between teeth, especially the back molars. Coventry dentists suggest flossing before brushing, as it allows more fluoride from the toothpaste to reach in between your teeth as you brush, strengthening tooth enamel.
Plaque staining tablets: In addition to toothbrush and floss, there are other tools you can use to enhance tooth care. Many pharmacies sell plaque staining tablets that release a red dye on your teeth after chewing to reveal areas that need better cleaning.
Mouth mirrors: Mouth mirrors are also available to show areas that need extra attention when brushing. These mirrors are similar to what professional dentists use when perusing your mouth for cavities or other dental problems. Mouth mirrors can help you monitor dental health and keep you abreast of potential problem areas as they arise.
Interdental brushes: Like flossing, interdental cleaners also contribute to removing food from in between teeth. These tiny brushes were designed to reach difficult places and are especially helpful for individuals who wear braces. Interdental cleaners vary in size and design to meet your individual need.
Water flosser: A water flosser shoots water in between your teeth to get rid of food and bacteria buildup. Although these tools have proven to be very useful in dental hygiene, they should not replace essential tooth care as provided through daily brushing and regular flossing.
Common issues with the wisdom teeth
The first sign that you have issues with your wisdom teeth is often pain or discomfort in your mouth and gums. You might also notice blood in your mouth when you brush your teeth. Issues with your wisdom teeth can also leave a bad taste in your mouth, or give you bad breath. Some people will experience jaw problems or notice a clicking sensation when they open their mouth or chew.
If you notice any of these signs, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. You may simply need to improve your oral health routine with regards to your wisdom teeth, or you may need to think about tooth extractions. Whatever the issues, we can help to guide you through the process of getting your oral health back on track.
For oral hygiene to be effective, you must be diligent in your brushing wisdom teeth and flossing habits. This is especially important for back wisdom teeth to ensure they remain in the best of health. The healthier your teeth, the more you can enjoy the foods you like without worrying about dental problems.
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