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Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third molars in the very back of our mouths and are the last adult teeth to come in. They actually grow perpendicular to the rest of your teeth so they are very often removed. A lot of patients do not see their wisdom teeth because they remain impacted under the gum. Impacted wisdom teeth do not have the space to push through the gum. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause all sorts of dental issues as we age and are a very common extraction.

If your dentist feels that your wisdom teeth need to come out, they will likely refer you to an oral surgeon. Some problems that can arise with impacted wisdom teeth include:

  • Jaw pain and swelling
  • Gums that are red and swollen
  • Difficulty or pain opening your mouth
  • Bad breath and an unpleasant taste in your mouth

Why do some wisdom teeth erupt while others remain impacted?

It all comes down to how much space a patient has in their mouth. Between the ages of 17 and 25, the wisdom teeth usually begin to emerge. If there is not enough room in the mouth, they will remain impacted. If there is enough space, wisdom teeth can come in and line up with the rest of the teeth just fine.

A partially impacted wisdom tooth occurs when just the crown of the tooth is visible through the gums. If the wisdom tooth is fully impacted, it never breaks the surface of the gums. If there is not enough space, wisdom teeth can grow at an angle and push against the back teeth which can lead to discomfort and decay.

What complications can arise from impacted wisdom teeth?

Left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to dental issues which include but are not limited to:

  • Gum disease: It is very difficult to properly floss and brush a partially impacted wisdom tooth since they are so hard to reach. It is not uncommon for the area to develop painful and inflamed gums.
  • Cysts: Wisdom teeth develop inside a sac within the jawbone. If the sac fills with fluid, a cyst can form and possibly cause damage to the jawbone, teeth, and nerves of the area.
  • Decay: Along with gum disease, partially impacted wisdom teeth are at a higher risk for decay and can even spread that decay to healthy, neighboring teeth.
  • Damage to other teeth: If an impacted or partially impacted wisdom tooth is left to push against the molar in front of it, it may cause damage to that tooth or even lead to an increased risk of infection in the area.

Can you prevent a wisdom tooth from being impacted?

Sadly there is nothing that can be done to prevent wisdom tooth impaction. The best way to prevent any damage is to see your dentist for check ups regularly and to have x-rays done when advised. A lot of people do not like to have x-rays and do not see that they are necessary but there is no way to know if you have an impacted wisdom tooth without x-rays.

More on Wisdom Teeth Removal : Smoking After Wisdom Teeth Removal


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