What are wisdom teeth?
Impacted wisdom teeth are a common dental issue that can occur when the third molars, or teeth at the back of the mouth, don’t have enough room to develop properly. This can often be due to overcrowding in the mouth or simply genetics.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a number of problems, from pain and discomfort to more serious issues like infections. If you think you may have impacted wisdom teeth, it’s important to see a nearby dentist or oral surgeon for an evaluation.
Impacted wisdom teeth can be a real pain – literally. These third molars at the back of the mouth often don’t have enough room to emerge or develop normally, which can cause all sorts of problems.
If your wisdom teeth are impacting your other teeth and causing pain or other dental complications, it is usually recommended that they be removed.
Some dentists and oral surgeons also recommend proactively removing wisdom teeth that are not yet causing symptoms, in order to avoid future problems.
Symptoms of wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth that are impacted (stuck and unable to grow in properly) may not cause problems. However, if an impacted wisdom tooth becomes infected, it can damage other teeth or cause other dental problems. You may experience some of these signs or symptoms:
- Red or swollen gums
- Jaw pain
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Swelling around the jaw
- Bad breath
- Tender or bleeding gums
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
When is the right time to see a dentist?
If you’re experiencing symptoms like pain and swelling in the back of your mouth near your wisdom teeth, it’s important to see a dentist near you. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a lot of problems if they’re not treated properly.
Causes of wisdom teeth
Around the ages of 17 to 25, most people’s wisdom teeth start to come in. For some, the wisdom teeth grow in without any issues and fit nicely behind the second molars. However, for many others, there isn’t enough space in the mouth for the third molars to develop properly. When this happens, the third molars become trapped (impacted).
Wisdom teeth can become impacted when they do not have enough room to grow in the mouth. This can happen when the tooth grows at an angle toward the next tooth, at an angle toward the back of the mouth, or at a right angle to the other teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth may only partially emerge from the gums, or they may never breakthrough. Whether partially or fully impacted, wisdom teeth can cause problems if they are not removed.
Damage to other teeth
If the wisdom tooth grows at an angle, it could damage the second molar or create a risk of infection. This pressure can also lead to problems with other teeth becoming crowded or requiring orthodontic treatment to straighten them out.
Wisdom teeth develop in a sac within the jawbone. This sac can fill with fluid, forming a cyst. This can damage the jawbone, teeth, and nerves. In rare cases, a tumor – usually noncancerous (benign) – may develop. This complication may require the removal of tissue and bone.
Wisdom teeth that are only partially erupted are more likely to develop tooth decay than other teeth. This is most likely because they are more difficult to keep clean, and because food and bacteria can more easily become trapped between the gum and a partially erupted tooth.
The pain and inflammation caused by partially erupted wisdom teeth can lead to a condition called pericoronitis. This is a serious gum condition that can be very painful and difficult to treat. To avoid this, it is important to have your wisdom teeth removed before they cause any problems.
How do you prevent wisdom teeth problems?
There is no sure way to prevent wisdom teeth from becoming impacted, but having regular dental appointments for cleanings and checkups every six months allows your dentist to keep track of the growth and emergence of your wisdom teeth.
Up-to-date dental X-rays may show signs of impacted wisdom teeth before any symptoms appear.