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There was a time, long ago, when our ancestors 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–superfluous. Our jaws are smaller than theirs were then, so there isn’t really room for these extra teeth. For some people, they never seem to cause problems. For many, however, they can cause problems, both now and down the road. These molars are vulnerable because they are difficult to clean, sitting so far back in the mouth, making them hard to brush and floss correctly. A a result they are prone to cavities and gum disease. How do you know if your wisdom teeth are causing you problems?

If you experience the following, you should see your dentist:

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

Impaction occurs when the wisdom teeth remain inside the gum tissue or the jawbone, or only partially break through the gums. When this happens, harmful bacteria come in through the opening, surround the tooth, and cause infection and resulting in jaw stiffness, pain, and swelling.

If they are causing the following, they may need to be removed:

–If they have emerged sideways
–if they are crowding or pushing nearby teeth
–If they are throwing off your bite and alignment
–If cysts are hollowing out the jaw and damaging nerves
–If they are causing chronic sinuses pressure, pain or congestion

If your teeth are experiencing any of these issues, it is important not to ignore them as they can only get worse. If you have concerns about your wisdom teeth, or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. James Feldman, please call our dental team at 202-362-8412 today!