Wisdom teeth are found at the ends of both rows of most people’s teeth, and typically emerge sometime between a person’s late teens and mid-twenties. While they can be benign, they sometimes present various complications for oral health. To correct or prevent these issues, patients often have their wisdom teeth removed by a dentist or oral surgeon.
Students in dental hygienist training will likely someday find themselves working with patients who have wisdom teeth, either in regular cleaning and polishing work or while assisting dentists with wisdom tooth removal. Here are a few facts that these students might find useful or interesting when dealing with wisdom teeth.
1. Students in Dental Hygienist Training: Nearly All Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed
Wisdom teeth are prone to many complications, including cavities, disease, pain, and “impacting,” which is when the tooth is unable to emerge properly. Because of these problems, as many as 85 per cent of wisdom teeth need to be removed. Easier removals can be handled by dentists, but some cases must be addressed by oral surgeons.
During your dental hygienist training, you will learn how to perform the radiography work that, among other things, is used to determine whether a wisdom tooth needs to be removed. You will also train to perform teeth cleaning, and learn to spot developing cavities and signs of disease on wisdom teeth. During your career, your performing these services will help patients maintain healthy wisdom teeth, or help a dentist determine whether those wisdom teeth should be removed.
2. Wisdom Teeth Can Have a Negative Effect on Other Teeth
Not only can wisdom teeth become diseased and painful themselves, but they can also have a negative effect on the health of nearby teeth. Their presence can place stress on the bodies and root systems of neighbouring teeth, which can lead to decay, cavities, or even infection.
After your dental hygienist training, you may find you need to spend extra time or effort cleaning the teeth that are closest to a patient’s wisdom teeth. If the patient will not be getting the teeth removed, or if the date of the removal is a long way off, you may want to explain to them the importance of making sure to do a good job of cleaning teeth near their wisdom teeth. This might help them prevent some damage in the long run.
3. Students in Dental Hygienist Training Know Post Removal Care Is Important
Graduates of a dental hygiene diploma program know that the removal of wisdom teeth is fairly straightforward, and will not cause pain when done properly. However, it takes days, or even a couple of weeks, for patients to recover from wisdom tooth extraction, and this period can involve risk of infection and pain.
Patients may need to be reminded to avoid getting food material into the sockets where the wisdom teeth were, or told to start doing a salt rinse in the days following the surgery. Both of these guidelines help to decrease the odds of infection.
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