Cavities are both very common and preventable. Any tooth can develop a cavity, including a wisdom tooth. Since it is common to have your wisdom teeth removed, many people do not think about one of them becoming a decayed tooth. However, a cavity on your wisdom tooth can be just as uncomfortable and cause the same issues as cavities elsewhere in your mouth.
Learning more about these teeth and wisdom tooth cavity treatment makes it easier to maintain the health of your teeth. It also helps you to identify a wisdom tooth problem sooner.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
A wisdom tooth is a type of molar. They are at the back of your mouth. The average age when a wisdom tooth starts to grow is 17 to 25. Like the rest of your teeth, a wisdom tooth can experience the following:
- A tooth cavity
- Tooth decay
- Impaction below the gumline
If a cavity on your wisdom tooth goes untreated, it has the potential to cause pain. The same can occur with a decayed tooth. Professional treatment from a dentist is necessary for a wisdom tooth cavity or a decayed tooth.
It is possible to experience wisdom teeth in the sinus cavity and wisdom teeth in the nasal cavity. However, in these cases, it is usually tooth roots and not a full wisdom tooth.
If there are the roots of wisdom teeth in the sinus cavity, removal could result in an opening between the sinus and mouth. Should wisdom teeth in the sinus cavity be an issue, your dentist will likely include sinus precautions in your care.
The Formation of Wisdom Tooth Cavities
There are three primary steps that occur to cause these, including:
This is the first step. Plaque is a type of film that is sticky and clear. It can coat your teeth as a result of poor cleaning and eating a lot of starches and sugars. Bacteria feeds on sugars and starches, allowing for the formation of plaque. If you do not remove the plaque regularly, it can harden becoming tarter above or below your gums. Once tarter is present, it essentially acts as a wall for the bacteria, allowing it to fester.
Plaque has acids in it that remove minerals for the enamel on the outside of your teeth. This can result in holes occurring where acid and bacteria can get to the dentin level of a tooth. This layer has a harder time resisting acid as it is softer than enamel. Tooth sensitivity can result from the acids affecting the tooth’s nerves.
Tooth decay starts to develop, allowing the acid and bacteria to get to the pulp layer of your tooth. This is where the blood vessels and nerves are. Pulp irritation and swelling can develop. Since the swelling has nowhere to go, pressure on the nerves results, causing you to experience pain as far down as the bone.
Signs and Symptoms of a Cavity in Your Wisdom Tooth
When there is a wisdom tooth problem, such as cavities, you might not notice right away. As the issue worsens, certain symptoms of this wisdom tooth problem may occur. These could include:
- Toothache that can be spontaneous, coming and going with warning
- Sharp to mild pain when you consume something cold or hot
- Black, white or brown stains on a wisdom tooth
- Wisdom tooth sensitivity
- Visible pits or holes in the affected tooth
- Discomfort when you bite down
Do Wisdom Teeth Get Cavities Easily?
For some people, the risk of a cavity on your wisdom tooth is higher. This is due to them having limited space back there, allowing bacteria and foreign particles to accumulate. It is more difficult to reach the area with a toothbrush to remove what can cause a wisdom tooth cavity and decay.
Can Wisdom Teeth Cause Cavities Elsewhere in Your Mouth?
Cavities are considered somewhat contagious. This means that having a cavity on your wisdom tooth could potentially increase your risk of developing a tooth cavity elsewhere in your mouth.
It is more likely this will occur when there is the Streptococcus mutans bacteria in your mouth. This bacterium promotes the tooth decay that can lead to tooth cavity.
A cavity after wisdom teeth removal is likely going to be on the neighboring teeth. Once you undergo wisdom tooth extraction, make sure to follow your dentist’s cleaning instructions exactly to reduce your risk.
Wisdom Tooth Cavity Treatment
The severity of cavities will determine the proper wisdom tooth cavity treatment. Your dentist will evaluate your cavity and you will work together to determine the appropriate course of action.
When a tooth cavity is relatively new and not significant, a fluoride treatment may be enough to restore the enamel so that further issues do not develop. In some cases, this can also reverse the process so that further degradation does not occur.
These treatments are richer in fluoride compared to what you get in your tap water. The level of fluoride also exceeds what you find in over-the-counter dental hygiene products.
The treatments are usually in the form of a gel, varnish, liquid or foam. It goes into a small tray or the dentist brushes it onto your teeth. Overall, it is a simple treatment that typically does not cause any discomfort.
When the decay is more advanced that the earliest stage, this is a way to essentially remove it and restore the tooth to a healthy state. There are several materials a dentist can use to input a filling. These include porcelain, composite resin and dental amalgam.
To perform a filling, the dentist will use a drill to remove the decayed area of your tooth. Once it is all gone, the filling material they are using is injected into the open space. This is then cured and shaped so that there are no gaps or excess.
When the decayed area of a tooth is extensive, a filling might not be enough to take care of the problem. In these cases, a crown might be the best solution. Your dentist will custom fit the crown so that it covers the natural crown of your tooth comfortably.
Just like with a filling, the dentist uses a drill to remove the affected area. Some healthy tooth might also be removed to ensure that the crown will fit properly. There are several materials that a dentist can use for a crown, including high-strength porcelain, porcelain fused to metal, gold and resin.
If the decay is down into the pulp of your wisdom tooth, your dentist might recommend that you get a root canal. The purpose is to try and save a tooth that is in severely bad condition to prevent the need to extract it completely.
For this process, your dentist will remove the tooth’s pulp. In some cases, they will inject a medication into the area so that it can kill any infection that might be present.
Once the dentist completes these steps, they will use a filling to restore the tooth. This is the same type of filling that they use for minor instances of tooth decay.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
In the most severe cases, removing the affected tooth may be the best course of action. This is something to think about if you have other wisdom teeth issues or when the level of decay is severe. Depending on the state of the tooth, the extraction may be simple, or it might require a more detailed procedure, especially if there is an impaction.
Once a dentist removes a wisdom tooth, there is typically no need to replace it. The gum area will heal, and you will not have to deal with things like dental implants or bridges.
Preventing Wisdom Tooth Cavities
There are several ways to reduce your risk of cavities on a wisdom tooth. Prevention can also decrease the chances of you needing wisdom tooth extraction. The preventative measures include:
- After drinking and eating, brush your teeth with a toothpaste that has fluoride
- See your dentist twice a year
- Drink tap water since it contains fluoride
- Rinse your mouth with a fluoride rinse
- Protect your tooth enamel with a dental sealant if your dentist recommends one
- Stick to foods that are healthy for your teeth and contain limited sugars and starches
- Avoid sipping anything other than water and snacking frequently
- Talk to your dentist about a fluoride treatment
- Chew gum that contains xylitol
- Use antibacterial treatments if your dentist recommends them
Keeping your wisdom teeth healthy can take a bit more work compared to your other teeth. This is because they can be harder to access. However, with good oral hygiene and getting wisdom tooth cavity treatment as necessary, you can maintain the health of these teeth.