Wisdom teeth are four teeth (referred to as third molars) that are located in the back of the mouth. If wisdom teeth emerge, or erupt, through the gums, they typically erupt when a person is between 17-25 years old.
Wisdom teeth become impacted when they are obstructed by teeth nearby and don’t have enough space to emerge fully.
There are two main types of impacted wisdom teeth. They are:
Partially impacted: This is where some of the tooth is visible
Fully impacted: This is where the entire tooth is below the gum line
In either situation, they need to be examined to determine the best course of action, which may include extraction. If you require extraction, it is usually an outpatient procedure that includes sedation and tooth removal.
Even if you aren’t feeling any pain, an impacted wisdom tooth is an invitation for bacteria to enter and create tooth decay. If left to grow, impacted wisdom teeth can create damage to adjacent teeth and result in inflammation, severe pain, and even infection in the mouth and jaw area.
Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Oftentimes, you won’t experience any symptoms with impacted wisdom teeth. However, when your impacted wisdom teeth are problematic, your symptoms can either be mild or severe.
Below are some symptoms that a person with an impacted wisdom tooth, or impacted wisdom teeth, might experience. These symptoms are listed to help you identify possible manifestations of this issue at home. If you believe you have any of these symptoms, please contact our team and set up an appointment.
Swollen, tender, or painful gums
Gum redness or bleeding
Swollen jaw or difficulty opening one’s jaw and mouth
Disagreeable taste in your mouth
Earache, headache, or jaw-ache with the above symptoms
Causes of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
There is not always enough space in the mouth for wisdom teeth to grow without accidentally pushing other teeth out of the way. Wisdom teeth might grow in sideways in an attempt to seek out more room in the mouth. An incoming wisdom tooth can grow towards another tooth, such as the second molar, and lead to overlap or collision. This is often the cause of toothaches or pain in the mouth.
In opposition, a wisdom tooth can grow away from the second molar, towards the back of the mouth, leading to tooth or jaw pain. Or, possibly, a wisdom tooth might just barely poke through the gums, in an attempt to emerge. This valiant effort of the wisdom tooth attempting to emerge can lead to swollen, tender, or bleeding gums.
All of these atypical growth patterns will result in an impacted wisdom tooth. Thus, when the eruption of wisdom teeth leads to abnormal growth patterns, a person can experience the aforementioned symptoms.
Many people feel these treatable symptoms when experiencing impacted wisdom teeth. This is a common experience for young adults! Often, young adults can ask their peer groups about experiences with impacted wisdom teeth and wisdom tooth surgery, and garner some information about their peers’ experiences.
What if I Have an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?
The patients at Lifetime Dental Health in Columbus, OH are welcomed in at any time for an x-ray, which is the proper way to diagnose an impacted wisdom tooth. A simple x-ray of the jaw can reveal all of your teeth’s growth patterns, including wisdom teeth growth patterns. This might help you and your dentist decide if you would like to undergo wisdom tooth removal surgery. Our team will also examine your mouth for impacted wisdom teeth at every 6-month biannual visit.
Some of our patients might benefit from the surgical removal of an impacted wisdom tooth to eradicate their symptoms and prevent future issues like infection. Wisdom tooth surgery is done in an outpatient setting and the person undergoing wisdom tooth surgery will return home on the same day that they start their procedure. Follow-up care is done at home, typically utilizing pain medications, ice packs, and rest to accelerate the healing process.
If you start to feel symptoms from an impacted wisdom tooth, it is unlikely for such symptoms to disappear on their own. This would be the best time to contact our team and have them assess your teeth. If a person has an impacted or growing wisdom tooth, but does not have associated symptoms, they might not need removal surgery.
Impacted wisdom teeth cannot be prevented using any particular method. However, dental health is highly important and interconnected. So, taking care of one’s mouth and attending regular 6-month dentist appointments is crucial to a healthy mouth. As always, it is important to practice daily dental hygiene, like brushing and flossing, to support your beautiful teeth!
If you believe you have an impacted wisdom tooth, contact us here at Lifetime Dental Health.