A wisdom tooth (also referred to as third molar) presents one of the largest teeth of the dental row – their structure is distinguished by massive crowns. In the process of chewing, molars act as a kind of millstones, grinding the solid particles. Among them, third molars (which are located in the very end of a row) have a rather ill fame. It is accounted for by the fact that quite often instead of the normal vertical eruption a wisdom tooth is growing horizontally, causing a lot of discomfort and consequences. A molar can erupt for years, developing into a serious problem, with the whole life of the patient being dependent on it sometimes.
The Causes of Horizontal Wisdom Tooth
The rudiments of wisdom teeth are present in each person, and are laid with the rest of teeth during prenatal development of the child. Nevertheless, they are the last to erupt. As a result, wisdom teeth start to arise only in adulthood. It is this peculiarity that is the main cause of the horizontal growth of wisdom teeth. Since when they are erupting there are already all the other teeth present, and the jaw is fully formed, there is often no space enough for the correct placement of the wisdom teeth. Therefore, the body automatically forms a channel for eruption in the direction that is vacant. In some cases, this leads to a tooth growing horizontally. It eventually damages gum tissue and even blood vessels.
Why Is It Dangerous?
Horizontal growth of the wisdom tooth is extremely dangerous for the patient and always requires timely dental intervention. The following symptoms are observed:
- inflammation of the gums in the place of tooth eruption;
- emergence of sharp paroxysmal toothache;
- elevated temperature (in some cases);
- impossibility of normally chewing food and opening a mouth due to severe inflammation and pain.
In addition, a completely horizontal wisdom tooth can lead to the development of much more severe complications:
- The risk of suppuration and the appearance of purulent lesions of the jaw. Any place of eruption of a tooth is an open wound surface, which, in contact with pathogens, will inflame and even suppurate. In the future, the purulent process may be localized, forming an abscess, or spread on the gums, causing the development of periodontitis and inflammation of the jaw bone – osteomyelitis.
- The risk of bleeding. A deep lying wisdom tooth can damage nearby blood vessels and may cause continuous bleeding from them.
- Disruption of the normal bite. A tooth which replaced the adjacent teeth can permanently change the bite of a person. As a result, there will be the need for surgery.
- Permanent injury of the mucosa. In some cases, the crown of a wisdom tooth succeeds in advancing outward. However, due to the incorrect location it can permanently damage the adjacent mucosa of the cheek by its sharp edges.
- The appearance of cancerous tumors. This complication occurs quite rare; its probability of emergence is due to the constant traumatic impact of molars on the cheek. Such a pressure may lead to further changes in the properties of the affected areas and their malignant transformation.
The only treatment that can help in such cases is removing the horizontal wisdom tooth. As a rule, to notice a wisdom tooth lying obliquely or horizontally is possible at the early stages of its eruption. This gives you the opportunity to have it removed before it grows and leads to the development of dangerous complications.
The scope of surgical intervention for the extraction of improperly located wisdom tooth depends on the stage of its eruption, health state of the patient and the presence/absence of inflammatory or purulent processes. Yet, any of these procedures is performed under local anesthesia because of its painfulness and requires a thorough preparation. Before the appointment of the removal procedure, a patient must undergo the following examinations:
- The initial consultation of a dentist where the doctor conducts a thorough examination of the oral cavity and determines the condition of the wisdom tooth, direction of its growth and location concerning adjacent teeth. In the modern, well-equipped clinics there is special equipment allowing to determine in advance the risk of improper growth of third molars.
- X-ray of the problem tooth, which gives information about its depth, condition, and form of the roots. Also the film will show if there are any possible abscesses or cysts nearby.
- CT is used when there is insufficient informativity of X-ray or if there is a need for going into the details of the received picture.
- A detailed collection of anamnesis of a patient is required to assess the condition of the body and the presence/absence of indications and contraindications for surgery, as well as to select the appropriate anesthesia.
The removal of a horizontal wisdom tooth is nearly always quite a serious surgical intervention. Due to the fact that the roots of these teeth are often twisted and turned in different directions, plus because of their massiveness, experts have to cut the gum further and remove the tooth practically in fragments.
Wisdom teeth can lead to very serious consequences. Some complications (e.g., osteomyelitis) may even threaten a patient’s life. Therefore, the main therapeutic tactics is the timely detection of improperly growing third molars and their removal.