- Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars that usually emerge between the ages of 17 and 25
- Due to their location at the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth are more prone to cavities as they are harder to clean effectively
- Wisdom tooth cavities can lead to pain, infection, and can affect adjacent teeth
- Extraction is often the preferred treatment for decayed wisdom teeth
- The pain from wisdom tooth extraction varies among individuals and is managed through anesthesia and post-operative care
What Happens if Your Wisdom Tooth Has a Cavity?
Cavities in wisdom teeth are fairly common due to their position in the back of the mouth which makes them harder to reach and clean properly.
When a cavity forms in a wisdom tooth, it can cause several issues:
- Pain and Discomfort: As the cavity progresses, it can cause significant pain and discomfort, especially when eating or drinking hot or cold items.
- Infection: The cavity can become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to an infection. This might cause swelling and severe pain, and in some cases can lead to the formation of an abscess.
- Damage to Adjacent Teeth: If the cavity is left untreated, the decay can spread to adjacent teeth. The wisdom tooth itself can also cause crowding or misalignment of the neighboring teeth.
- Gum Disease: Cavities in wisdom teeth can contribute to the development of gum disease in the surrounding gum tissue.
Should Decayed Wisdom Teeth be Removed?
Often, dentists recommend the removal of decayed wisdom teeth. This is because wisdom teeth do not serve a critical function and eliminating them can prevent further issues.
Here are some reasons why extraction might be necessary:
- The wisdom tooth is impacted, meaning it has not emerged properly
- There is extensive decay that cannot be repaired effectively
- The tooth is causing crowding or affecting the alignment of other teeth
- There is an infection or a risk of infection
However, in some cases where the wisdom tooth is fully erupted and positioned correctly, the dentist might attempt to repair the cavity with a filling or other dental procedures.
How Painful is Wisdom Tooth Extraction?
The pain experienced during wisdom tooth extraction varies from person to person. The procedure itself is usually painless because it is performed under anesthesia. However, there can be discomfort and pain during the healing process, which is usually managed with pain relievers and by following the dentist’s post-operative care instructions.
The level of pain can be influenced by:
- The complexity of the extraction
- The individual’s pain tolerance
- The proper following of postoperative care instructions
Common symptoms after extraction include swelling, mild pain, and minimal bleeding. These usually subside within a few days.
When Can the Wisdom Tooth Cavity be Repaired by Placing a Dental Filling?
Repairing a wisdom tooth cavity by placing a dental filling is possible under certain circumstances.
The suitability of this treatment depends on various factors:
- Severity of the Decay: If the cavity is detected early, and the decay is not extensive, it may be possible to clean out the decayed part of the tooth and fill it with a dental filling material.
- Position and Eruption Status: For a filling to be placed effectively, the wisdom tooth should be fully erupted and in a position that is accessible for the dentist. Partially erupted or impacted wisdom teeth may not be suitable for fillings.
- Oral Hygiene and Maintenance: If the patient is able to maintain good oral hygiene and can effectively clean their wisdom teeth, a filling might be a more viable long-term solution.
Wisdom Tooth Cavity Treatment – Is It More Difficult?
Treating cavities in wisdom teeth can be more challenging compared to other teeth due to several reasons:
- Location: Wisdom teeth are located at the back of the mouth, making them difficult to access. This poses a challenge not only for daily cleaning but also for the dentist when trying to perform precise procedures like fillings.
- Tooth Position and Angulation: Wisdom teeth may not always erupt straight; they can be angled or partially erupted, which makes effective treatment more challenging.
- Root Anatomy: Wisdom teeth often have complex root structures which might complicate certain dental procedures.
- Increased Risk of Infection and Complications: Due to the challenges in maintaining hygiene and the nature of the area, there is often a higher risk of infection and other complications associated with wisdom tooth procedures.
Wisdom Tooth Cavity Home Remedies
While home remedies might provide some temporary relief, they cannot substitute for proper dental care, especially when dealing with cavities. If you suspect you have a cavity in your wisdom tooth, it’s important to make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. Ignoring it or delaying treatment could lead to worsening pain, tooth loss, and even systemic infection in severe cases.
Here are some suggestions to help manage discomfort and prevent further damage until you can see a dentist:
- Good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Using an antibacterial mouthwash can also help.
- Saltwater rinse: Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater a few times a day. Salt has antimicrobial properties and can help soothe discomfort.
- Cold compress or ice pack: Apply it to the affected side of your face to help numb the pain and reduce swelling.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Non-prescription medications such as ibuprofen can help manage the pain.
- Clove oil: Apply a very small amount to a cotton swab and dab it on the affected area. Clove oil has numbing properties. However, it should be used sparingly and with caution as it can cause burns in the mouth if used excessively.
- Avoid sugary and hard foods: These can exacerbate pain and further damage the tooth.
Remember, these are temporary measures. A cavity is a serious dental issue that needs professional treatment. Dental professionals have the appropriate tools and expertise to effectively diagnose and treat tooth decay, including wisdom tooth cavities.
Cavities in wisdom teeth are common and can be difficult to treat due to their location and potential complications. In cases where the tooth is fully erupted, accessible, and the decay is not extensive, a dental filling can be a viable treatment option. However, in many cases, extraction of the wisdom tooth is recommended to prevent further issues. It’s important to have regular dental check-ups to detect any cavities early and to consult with your dentist for the most appropriate course of action based on the specifics of your case.
This article is complete and was published on July 16, 2023, and last updated on August 25, 2023.