As anyone who’s dealt with impacted wisdom teeth could tell you, this dental condition is no joke. It can cause severe pain and discomfort as well as other complications, but early detection and treatment can help minimize its impact on your life. Of course, the first step is to arm yourself with the information you need!
Let’s take a look at when and how impacted wisdom teeth can occur, as well as the common signs that point to this condition.
What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth, or “third molars” are the last teeth to emerge, generally when you’re between 17 and 25 years of age. This isn’t always a simple process, especially if there isn’t enough room left in your mouth by the time they start to erupt. Wisdom teeth may start to twist, tilt or get displaced if they don’t have space to come in normally.
Here’s what could happen while a wisdom tooth is coming in:
- It could be angled toward the second molar
- It could be angled toward the back of your mouth
- It could be “lying down”, i.e. growing at a 90-degree angle to the teeth near it
- It could be pointing straight up or down, but encased within the surrounding jaw bone
Impacted wisdom teeth are usually classified according to where they lie in the jaw and how far they have emerged:
- If the crown of the tooth has erupted from the jaw bone but part of it is still covered by the gum, this is known as soft tissue impaction.
- If part of the wisdom tooth is still covered by the jaw bone, this is known as partial bony impaction.
- If the tooth is completely covered by the jaw bone and unable to erupt, this is known as complete bony impaction
Your dentist can look for signs of an impacted wisdom tooth during your six-monthly checkup, using dental x-rays to help diagnose the problem before it gets out of hand. If you don’t get timely treatment, you may face more serious issues such as tooth decay, gum disease overcrowding, damage to surrounding teeth and even cysts or tumors in the mouth.
Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth may not cause any symptoms until the area around them gets infected or other teeth near them are affected. As a result, most people don’t realize the problem exists in time to prevent other dental issues, which can then require more extensive treatment.
Here are some common warning signs that may indicate the presence of an impacted wisdom tooth:
- Pain in the area behind your last molar
- Swelling, tenderness or stiffness in the jaw
- Headaches or pain in the jaw
- Bleeding, tender or swollen gums
- Unpleasant breath or strange taste while eating
- Swelling in lymph nodes in the neck
Since impacted wisdom teeth can cause a wide range of other problems down the line, your dentist will usually suggest removal of the affected tooth. The pain from impacted wisdom teeth can also affect your daily life, work and general wellbeing, so it’s essential to get them treated at the earliest.
At All About Smiles, we want to help you keep your teeth as healthy as possible, and we can treat your impacted wisdom tooth before it gets any worse. Make an appointment with us today!