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Long ago when our ancestors were roaming the earth trying to survive, they needed the third molars to help chew the kinds of food they ate. Our diets have since evolved, making these third molars, or wisdom teeth, as they are commonly known, superfluous. Today our jaws are smaller than theirs were back then, and now there isn’t really room for these extra teeth. This means that once they come in they can cause problems, currently and down the road. They are after all, difficult to clean because they sit so far back in the mouth, making them hard to brush and floss correctly.

Because they are hard to keep clean, they are vulnerable to dental caries and gum disease. How do you know if your wisdom teeth are causing you problems? If you have the following, you may need to see your dentist:

–Pain or discomfort in the back of the mouth
–Misalignment of surrounding teeth
–Infection
–A raw gum line in the back of the mouth
–Jaw pain or ache
–Unpleasant breath and an unpleasant taste when eating
–Red, swollen gums where the molars are

Your dentist will examine these teeth, and use X-rays to determine whether they should be removed, and when. When they merge sideways they can crowd the nearby teeth, and throw off your bite and alignment. If cysts develop around the wisdom teeth, this can hollow out the jaw and damage nerves. They can also wreak havoc with your sinuses, causing pressure, pain and congestion. In addition to causing gum inflammation, swollen gums can create pockets in between the teeth that encourages bacteria and cavities. Impaction can develop when a wisdom tooth remains inside the gum tissue or the jawbone, or only partially breaks through the gums. When this happens, harmful bacteria come in through the opening, surround the tooth, and cause infection. Once this happens you may experience jaw stiffness, pain, and swelling. If your teeth are impacted, removal is your best option to solve your current problem and prevent problems in the future.

If you have concerns or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Obiora Nkwonta, please call Rainier Dental Center today at 206.329.1100!