I often encounter patients that still have their wisdom teeth. Though many people have had them extracted, and some people never have them develop, others not only have them but they actually have room for them to fully erupt into the mouth and be functional chewers. For these patients it is more often than not a severe difficulty to keep them clean.
In this small segment of the population that has wisdom teeth that are fully erupted and functional, a portion of them already need extraction due to decay. For those lucky few who have managed to elude decay, they have severe stain, decalcification, gum inflammation, and other signs that they aren’t getting to those wisdom teeth when they brush, floss, swish, water pick, or otherwise clean their mouths.
Along my path of becoming a Dentist, I learned how to care for these teeth. While in dental school I remember one of the wise, more mature dentists, showing a patient a trick that has stuck with me throughout the years.
While brushing your back teeth on the cheek side, slide your lower jaw from side to side, or left to right. If your brush is back far enough, you will notice a great difference in the amount of space as you slide your jaw from side to side. As you brush your top right teeth or lower left teeth, hold your jaw to your right. As you brush your top left teeth or lower right teeth, hold your jaw to the left. Now add in the adjustment of how far you are opening your mouth. Opening a little less than half seems to be the magic position, but you may find closing or opening slightly will aid you in reaching even further around those pesky wisdom teeth and almost giving you the ability to brush the very back side of them! Some sensitivity and bleeding may occur. This is due to the lack of attention these teeth get on a regular basis. Lack of cleaning means a buildup of food deposits and gum inflammation. Inflamation causes sensitivity and bleeding when you touch the tissue.
After 2 weeks of properly cleaning these hard to reach areas, the bleeding and sensitivity should subside. Consult your dentist if it doesn’t as you may have an underlying issue such as infection.
By using these tricks to aid in properly cleaning your hard to reach posterior teeth, you may just avoid extraction and save your wisdom teeth.