What Are The Warning Signs Of An Impacted Wisdom Tooth?
Wisdom teeth eruption or removal has become a young adults right of passage into adulthood in recent years. Most parents are well aware of the need to remove those pesky wisdom teeth long before they present a problem. Dentists are likely to recommend that wisdom teeth be removed before they become an issue. However, for those that do not have them removed or do not receive regular dental care, it is important to know the warning signs of problematic or impacted wisdom teeth.
Solving The Impacted Wisdom Tooth
The most common treatment to care for a wisdom tooth is to remove it from the mouth. Wisdom teeth do not fit in most people’s mouths. Our jaws are able to hold at maximum 28 teeth (counting the wisdom teeth we develop 32 teeth) usually. There are some exceptions but generally there is little room for the wisdom teeth as they develop and attempt to erupt into the mouth.
Wisdom teeth removal is can be done at a dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office using just local or if necessary general anesthesia. Since the removal of wisdom teeth is considered oral surgery there are risks involved. These can include nerve damage, excessive bleeding, and possibly bone or teeth fractures. It becomes even more complicated if the wisdom tooth is impacted. An impacted wisdom tooth occurs when the tooth is encased in bone and never erupts fully into the mouth.
An impacted wisdom tooth may partially erupt so that only a portion of the tooth is visible (referred to as partially impacted), or it may never break through the gum tissues (fully impacted).
Whether partially or fully impacted, the tooth may:
- -Grow at an angle toward the next tooth (second molar)
- -Grow at an angle toward the back of the mouth
- -Grow at a right angle to the other teeth, as if the wisdom tooth is “lying down” within the jawbone
- -Grow straight up or down like other teeth but stay trapped within the bone
Signs And Symptoms Of An Impacted Wisdom Tooth
Impacted wisdom teeth don’t always cause symptoms. However, when an impacted wisdom tooth becomes infected, damages other teeth or causes other dental problems, you may experience some of these signs or symptoms:
- -Pain at the back of the mouth, behind the molars. This pain will gradually increase with time as the wisdom teeth continue to grow in misaligned or sideways, pressing on nerves and bone, and crowding surrounding teeth.
- -Red or swollen gum tissues
- -Tender or bleeding gum tissues
- -Inflammation (Swelling) around the jaw. Oral infections are common with wisdom teeth attempts at eruption. Bacteria can build up in the area where the tooth is attempting to erupt creating a buildup of oral bacteria which can lead to infection. If left untreated, this will affect both your dental and general health.
- -Unexplained Bad breath (Halitosis)
- -A weird taste in your mouth
- -Headache If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can develop into cysts and, in rare cases, tumors.
Possible Impacted Wisdom Teeth Complications
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause various problems in the mouth.
These can include:
- -Damage to surrounding teeth. If the wisdom tooth presses against the second molar, it may damage the roots of the second molar or make it more prone to infection. This pressure can also cause problems with crowding of the other teeth necessitating the possible need for orthodontic treatments to straighten other teeth in the future.
- -Cyst Develop. The wisdom tooth grows in a sac within the bones. This sac can fill with fluid, forming a cyst that can damage the bone, teeth and nerves. In rare cases a tumor can develop. Luckily, it is usually a noncancerous tumor. The development of a cyst or tumor may require removal of tissue and bone.
- -Tooth Decay. Partially impacted wisdom teeth tend to be at an increased risk for tooth decay. This is because wisdom teeth are more difficult to keep clean and because food and bacteria get easily trapped between the gum tissue and a partially erupted tooth.
- –Periodontal Disease. The difficulty of cleaning impacted, partially erupted wisdom teeth also makes them an increased risk for the development of a painful, inflammatory gum condition called pericoronitis.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth Conclusion
You should schedule an appointment to see your dentist if you experience pain, swelling or other symptoms mentioned above in the area behind your last molar that may be related to an impacted wisdom tooth. Maintain regularly scheduled dental appointments for dental examinations and professional cleanings to catch any issues before they develop further. Regularly updated dental X-rays may indicate impacted wisdom teeth before any symptoms develop.
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Marielaina Perrone DDS