The third molars, more popularly known as wisdom teeth, are the teeth that grow at the back of the mouth and typically come out between the ages of 17 and 25. These late bloomers earned their name because they emerge at an age when a person is considered “wiser” than they were as a child and able to make better decisions. Ironically, one of these decisions may be to remove the wisdom teeth themselves.
While some may not experience issues with their wisdom teeth, there are others who find that their own set has not fully erupted. These wisdom teeth are impacted.
What does the situation entail? Does it hurt? What can be done about it? Read on to find out more about this phenomenon.
What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Impacted wisdom teeth occur when the third molars grow at an angle preventing them from breaking completely through the gumline.
Most people grow 4 wisdom teeth, 1 in each corner at the furthest part of the mouth. However, there are those who will grow fewer or none at all. Unfortunately, the mouth is not designed to accommodate all 32 teeth. When the wisdom teeth start growing, they can result in pain, gum swelling, and infections.
Wisdom teeth that are impacted become wedged between the adjacent tooth and the jawbone and can cause a variety of issues. The abnormal sideways growth, combined with the lack of space, pushes the other teeth in the wrong direction, resulting in pain.
Pain is not the only problem, however. Even if there is no visible damage, the teeth become susceptible to disease especially if they remain under the gum and collect bacteria.
Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth, when impacted cause pain, however, signs are not always felt. In addition to more obvious dental problems, like misalignment and infections, here are some other symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth:
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Painful jaw
- Swelling of the jaw
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Difficulty of opening your mouth
- Halitosis or bad breath
If you’re in your late adolescence or early adulthood and have a small jaw, you are susceptible to having impacted wisdom teeth. In this case, visit a dental professional to conduct tests.
Threats Posed by Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted teeth could either be partial (part of the tooth breaks through the gums) or full (the entire tooth remains trapped). Either way, it is not possible to clean teeth as well as you can with your other teeth. This problem leads to complications which include:
- Cavities – Cavities are holes or openings that develop in teeth. While commonly acquired because of poor oral hygiene and food choices, this can also be a result of not being able to properly brush and floss as in the case of an impacted tooth.
- Crowding of Nearby Teeth – Crowded teeth is not merely an aesthetic issue. This can also make it more difficult to brush and floss. As a result, it is easier for plaque, tartar, and bacteria to build up and cause other diseases. Crowding could also result in impacted wisdom teeth infection.
- Cysts – Dental cysts form around the roots of buried teeth. They grow slowly and rarely show symptoms but you may feel pain and some swelling. If not treated, it can cause weakness of the jaw. A surgical procedure is the best way to prevent it from returning.
- Absorption of Adjacent Teeth – In medical terms, this is called resorption and happens when the tooth is absorbed into the tooth canal and causes the inner and outer surface to be inflamed.
- Decay – Tooth decay is a result of poor oral hygiene practices. It can be painful and would demand interventions like the use of dental filling, root canal, or extraction. In most cases, impacted wisdom teeth extraction is necessary.
- Gum Disease – You could suffer from gingivitis or inflammation of the gums and periodontal disease which damages the inner layer of the gum and bone to form pockets. Both conditions need to be treated as they could cause pain, plaque build-up, and tooth loss.
Solutions for Impacted Teeth Canine
Unlike other tooth conditions, impacted teeth do not always manifest symptoms so it may be tempting to skip the dental visit. However, a regular check-up can benefit you, especially if the pain caused by your impacted tooth is no longer bearable. To ease the symptoms, the most common solution is to opt for an impacted wisdom teeth extraction.
Here are some of the reasons why dentists would recommend this solution:
- An impacted tooth can damage other healthy teeth as pushes its way against the neighbouring molars.
- Impacted teeth can cause infections or become decayed making removal a necessity.
- The bacteria around the tooth can lead to gum diseases that, if left untreated, could enter the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body.
- If there is a presence of fluid-filled cysts or tumours, these can damage the jawbone and nerves.
Impacted wisdom teeth removal becomes necessary if the dentist detects that it can lead to complications in the mouth. As a rule, it is easier to remove the tooth if the procedure is done earlier. Adults can still get rid of their wisdom teeth, but the procedure may be more complex and the recovery period is relatively longer.
Most wisdom tooth extraction procedures are surgical in nature because of the position of the tooth. In this case, an experienced dental surgeon removes the tooth which may require cutting into the jaw. General dentists can perform the operation.
Why Not Everyone Needs Wisdom Tooth Surgery
Some people are lucky enough to have adequate space in their jaw and mouth to keep their wisdom teeth. If this is the case for you, it does not mean you can neglect it. You still need to observe proper oral hygiene and practices. Additionally, you still need to consult your dentist who will ascertain whether or not keeping your wisdom teeth is feasible and will not affect your bite.
Because having impacted wisdom teeth can be painful and lead to potential infections, the situation needs special attention. If you feel any of the symptoms, do not hesitate to call a dental professional for a check-up and laboratory tests.
If your wisdom teeth are growing or if you are experiencing pain and constant infection, contact Cosmo Dental Centre. Our dental team wants to make sure that your impacted wisdom teeth are addressed so that you can return to a pain-free life and preserve the health of your teeth. Call us at (519) 659-2767, pay us a visit, or fill in our contact form for inquiries or to schedule an appointment.