When most people think about wisdom teeth, cavities aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. In many cases, wisdom teeth — also known as third molars — are removed before cavities can form. But if your wisdom teeth have not yet been removed, it’s possible you could develop a wisdom tooth cavity.
In fact, wisdom teeth are even more likely to develop cavities than other teeth, because their placement in the back of the mouth makes them difficult to brush. Wisdom teeth may grow in crooked, erupt only partially, or may not be able to pierce the gum line at all. All of these scenarios set up the perfect conditions for excess plaque, tartar, and eventual tooth decay to occur.
What can you do for wisdom teeth cavities?
So what is the best course of action if you develop a wisdom tooth cavity? It really depends on your individual situation. If there is enough room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to fully erupt without causing crowding or damage to your other teeth, and the position of the tooth allows it to be effectively cleaned going forward, your dentist may recommend that you keep the tooth and treat the cavity with a traditional dental filling.
With most wisdom teeth, however, this isn’t the case. Wisdom teeth frequently erupt improperly (and sometimes not at all), causing pain, crowding, and damage to other teeth. If you have developed a cavity in one of your wisdom teeth and are faced with additional challenges due to the placement of the tooth in question, your dentist may recommend wisdom tooth removal. Having your wisdom teeth removed will not only address the cavity and tooth decay, but will also help protect your other teeth, your jaw, and your overall health.
Removal of a tooth may seem like an extreme treatment for a cavity, and in most cases, it would be. But wisdom teeth are an exception. Even if your wisdom teeth aren’t causing problems yet, it’s often a good idea to have them removed in order to prevent crowding, pain, and damage to other teeth. Wisdom tooth cavities account for 15% of wisdom tooth extractions, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association. Your dentist can determine if there is enough room for your wisdom teeth to grow in properly by examining your dental x-rays.
It’s important to see your dentist regularly at any age, but especially if you’re between the ages of 17-25 and you have not yet had your wisdom teeth removed. Having these teeth removed before they begin to cause problems is usually much easier and less involved than attempting to correct the damage later.
If you’re avoiding a visit to the dentist because you’re nervous about possible wisdom teeth removal, cavity treatment, or dental visits overall, know that there are tools available to help minimize the pain of dental injections. Talk to your dentist or oral surgeon about your fears and concerns. Today’s oral health care providers are well versed in ways to relieve anxiety and make your dental care as comfortable as possible. The most important thing to remember is to not ignore your oral health. Schedule regular cleanings and contact your dentist if you have discomfort, pain, questions or concerns.
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