What are wisdom teeth?
The third or fourth molars, which are the posterior most teeth in the dental arch, are called the wisdom teeth.
If a wisdom tooth erupts clearly through the tissues without causing any discomfort in the adjacent tooth, and you are able to brush, floss and clean it properly, there is no need for an extraction. But if the tooth eruption through the tissue has caused inflammation and infection, there needs to be an extraction. An infected wisdom tooth can be extremely painful and cause jaw problems if the extraction is prolonged.
Also, it is true that wisdom tooth extractions are one of the most painful procedures for a patient to encounter. This pain increases when you have jaw problems like the Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome. The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull. Injury or damage (due to several reasons like infection or accidents) can trigger localized pain and result in a painful condition called temporomandibular joint pain or TMJ pain for short.
When you are thinking of getting your wisdom tooth extracted, there are several complications. The most prevalent jaw complications are listed below:
Jaw Complications of Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Jaw pain is, of course, higher for people who are to have their wisdom tooth extracted, because of the tooth’s location near the jaw.
There also might be a symptom referred to as ‘jaw stiffness’ where there might be a little difficulty in opening your mouth and you may experience pain and stiffness in your jaw. If this is because of a wisdom tooth, the pain subsides in a couple of days after the extraction and the doctor generally prescribes painkillers like Ibuprofen to help relieve this pain.
The complications concerning your jaw during wisdom tooth extraction can make you ask the question, is there is a right time to remove your wisdom tooth? If you are afflicted with TMJ pain, here are a few important questions to ask your dentist:
- In case of a TMJ problem, should the wisdom tooth be left in place until the problem subsides?
- Should a local anesthetic be used or should general anesthesia be given to relax the patient if the patient feels that the jaw is being stressed?
- Should an intravenous steroid be used to minimize joint inflammation, which leads to pain after the extraction and limits the jaw motion?
- Are the wisdom teeth impacted in bone, are they fully or partially erupted, and if impacted, are they lying on their sides?
- Do the overlying gums have inflammation? What is to be done about them?
- Will the erupting wisdom tooth cause unwanted tooth movement after the surgery?
With the right dentist, a wisdom tooth extraction should be trouble free. Though many TMJ patients have reported that their problems with their temporomandibular jaw began shortly after the wisdom tooth extraction, it is important to note that studies do not show a correlation between wisdom teeth extraction and TMJ pain.
Also, it is important to take into consideration that since wisdom teeth do not cause TMJ pain, they should not be extracted for jaw pain. Only problems like gum inflammation, negative impact on the neighboring teeth, and in worse cases, cysts and infections are when you should have your wisdom tooth removed.