Wisdom teeth, also known as the third set of molars located at the very back of your mouth, usually erupt during your late teen years or early adulthood (between 17-21 years old). Sometimes, these teeth do not erupt properly and may get stuck under your gum or do not have enough room to break through the gum. Dentists would consider these impacted wisdom teeth.
In some cases, there may be no apparent or immediate problems. However, impacted wisdom teeth are more prone to tooth decay and gum disease than other teeth, and can cause pain and other dental problems.
Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Some people may never experience any problems with their wisdom teeth as long as they practice good oral hygiene. However, wisdom teeth may erupt and grow in an atypical fashion, such as sideways, at an atypical angle, or only partially. Your mouth may also not have room for these teeth. This may lead to pain, swollen or bleeding gum, bad breath, ear pain, and other discomforts.
Your dentist can tell if your wisdom teeth are impacted by examining your teeth and taking a simple x-ray of your mouth.
Complications of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause several problems in the mouth:
- Damage to other teeth: If the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, it may damage the second molar or cause infections. It can also cause crowding of the other teeth, which may require orthodontic treatments to straighten out the teeth.
- Cysts: Impacted wisdom teeth can form cysts (sacs filled with fluid) that can damage the jawbone, teeth, and nerves.
- Decay: Impacted wisdom teeth are harder to clean because food and bacteria can get trapped between the gum and the partially erupted tooth. This poses a risk of higher tooth decay compared to other teeth.
- Gum disease: Because impacted wisdom teeth are harder to clean, this increases the risk of developing a painful, inflammatory gum condition called pericoronitis in that area.
Treatments for Impacted Wisdom Teeth
If your impacted wisdom teeth cause symptoms or dental problems, your dentist would recommend removing them. The surgery would usually be performed by your dentist themselves or by an oral surgeon and can take between 30-60 minutes.
Before your procedure, the oral surgeon may use a type of anesthesia so you don’t feel pain during the surgery, such as local (numbing), sedation (relaxing and blocking pain), or general (making you sleep).
During the procedure, the oral surgeon will make a cut in your gums to take out the problematic tooth. They will then stitch the cut shut and may pack your mouth with gauze to absorb the blood. These stitches will usually dissolve within a few days.
After surgery, you may experience some pain, bleeding, and swelling. Your dentist will give you specific aftercare instructions to help manage these discomforts.
An impacted wisdom tooth might not cause any trouble at all. However, if you are experiencing certain symptoms or discomforts, be sure to contact our office right away to get it removed. We are here to provide you with the best possible care!