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Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt inside the oral cavity. They are basically evolutionary remnants from a time when human beings used to eat raw meat and so needed the extra molar. As we have evolved, so has our diet and our jaws have become correspondingly smaller.

This is the reason why wisdom teeth commonly erupt partially and in improper positions.

Partially erupted wisdom teeth and strep throat

The partially erupted wisdom teeth are difficult to clean and act as a reservoir of infection. Over time this can result in acute pain, swelling, development of abscesses and even spreading of infection to the throat and tonsils.

Of course, that depends on many other factors. However it is safe to assume that in a time or state where your immunity is reduced, the pathogenic bacteria present around the wisdom teeth can cause symptoms in the throat as well.

If the case of recurrent strep throat, different causes of infection should be investigated. Physicians should ensure the wisdom teeth are in no way contributing to the bacterial load.

Extraction or not?

Wisdom teeth may need to be extracted as they do not add much to a person's chewing efficacy if they have not erupted properly in the arch.

There is also, however, another possibility where the doctor will allow the teeth to erupt into the oral cavity. This is done if the erupting pattern and the space available to the teeth make it seem likely that the tooth will be able to reach its proper position in the mouth. In such cases, just antibiotic coverage to take care of any infections that may have occurred as the tooth erupts is sufficient.

Also, wisdom teeth that are fully impacted cannot cause any infection in other parts of the oral cavity. It is only when they are erupted partially that this phenomenon can happen. The decision on how to deal with impacted teeth follows two schools of thought.

There is one line of thinking which proactively removes all the wisdom teeth in the mouth even if they have not caused any trouble yet. This can help prevent any third molar related difficulties later in life although I personally do not agree with this thinking.

The other method is to treat the wisdom teeth on a need to need basis. Often one or more of the wisdom teeth will never erupt into the oral cavity at all and will remain fully impacted inside the jaws without causing any problems. There is no need for the patient to undergo an expensive procedure just because something might happen someday.

Both ways of treating third molars are internationally accepted and have their pros and cons.

For a recurrent strep infection, all the possible niches of infection should be removed and consultation with an ENT may also be necessary. In fact, it is likely that a multi-pronged approach to treatment with consultation from a dentist as well as an ENT surgeon may be the best way forward.

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