Wisdom teeth are the last of the adult teeth to emerge and it can be quite painful when they do. If your dentist tells you your wisdom teeth are impacted, it means these molars don’t have enough room to develop normally. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a number of issues aside from pain. They can damage surrounding teeth and trigger swelling around the jaw. And because these molars are harder to clean, they’re more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease than other teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth that are causing problems are usually removed. In fact, some dentists will recommend extracting them regardless of whether they’re impacted, to prevent future issues. Below are some signs your wisdom teeth should be removed. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, be sure to visit your dentist for a thorough examination.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth Symptoms
Impacted wisdom teeth don’t always cause symptoms but when they become infected or damage adjacent teeth, you may notice the following signs:
- Tender gums
- Red or bleeding gums
- Swelling or pain around the jaw
- Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth
Wisdom teeth may emerge partially so that only some of the crown is visible or they may never break through the gums at all. Whether fully or partially impacted, the tooth may:
- Grow at an angle toward the back of the mouth
- Grow at an angle toward the next tooth
- Grow as if the wisdom tooth is ‘lying down’ inside the jawbone
- Appear to grow straight, but stay trapped within the jawbone
If you’re noticing any of the signs above, it’s best to seek medical attention from a dental professional. If these symptoms are ignored, they can cause serious complications in the mouth.
A wisdom tooth develops in a sac within the jawbone. This sac can fill with fluid, forming a cyst that can damage the jawbone. This cyst can also affect surrounding teeth and nerves. Sometimes, but rarely, a benign tumour can develop. If this happens, you may need surgery to remove tissue and bones.
2. Damage to other teeth
An impacted wisdom tooth could push up against the second molar. This will not only damage that molar but also increase the risk of infection in that area. Overcrowding happens when the mouth has no room to accommodate these new teeth. In this case, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to straighten out surrounding teeth, in addition to extraction.
3. Gum disease
An infection of the tissue and bones is common with impacted wisdom teeth because it’s very difficult to clean molars that haven’t grown in properly. Gum disease is a pretty common painful inflammatory condition. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for gum disease, which is why extracting wisdom teeth is one of the best methods for prevention.
Tooth decay is very common for partially impacted wisdom teeth. Cavities, also known as dental caries, usually occur because food and bacteria tend to get trapped between the gum and partially erupted tooth.
Never take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to wisdom teeth. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms or complications, be sure to visit your dentist right away. He or she will examine the area and also take x-rays to identify the issue. If your wisdom teeth are impacted, they’ll need to be extracted.