Impacted wisdom teeth are third molars at the back of the mouth that have not enough space to naturally emerge or expand.
Wisdom teeth are the last adult teeth to (erupt) come into the mouth. Most people at the back of the mouth have four wisdom teeth — two at the top, two at the bottom.
Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to discomfort, other teeth damage and other dental issues. Impacted wisdom teeth can in some cases cause no obvious or immediate problems. Yet they may be more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease than other teeth because they are hard to clean.
Impacted wisdom teeth that cause discomfort or other problems to the dental system are usually removed. Some dentists and oral surgeons also recommend that damaged wisdom teeth be removed that do not cause symptoms to avoid potential issues.
Impacted wisdom teeth are not always responsible for symptoms. However, you can experience any of these signs or symptoms when an impacted wisdom tooth is infected, damages other teeth or causes other dental problems:
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Jaw pain
- Swelling around the jaw
- Bad breath
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Difficulty opening your mouth
Causes of Wisdom Tooth Pain
Wisdom teeth become impacted as they don’t have enough room to come in or develop normally. They normally emerge between 17 and 25 years of age. Some people have wisdom teeth which emerge without any troubles and then get lined up with the other teeth behind the second molars. However, in many cases, the mouth is too crowded for third molars to develop normally. Hence, these crowded third molar teeth become trapped or impacted.
An impacted wisdom tooth may partially emerge through the gums fully impacted. Whether it is partially or fully impacted, the tooth may:
- Grow at an angle towards the second molar tooth
- Grow at an angle to the backside of your mouth
- The other teeth grow at a right angle
- Grow straight up or down
You may have an impacted wisdom tooth more likely if you:
- Are between 17 and 25 years old
- Have a small jaw structure
There is no way to prevent a tooth from being impacted, but good dental hygiene will help you avoid possible problems.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause many mouth problems:
Damage to other teeth:. If the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, the second molar may be weakened or the risk of infection in that region may be increased. This pressure may also cause crowding problems with the other teeth or may require orthodontic treatment to straighten other teeth.
Cysts: Inside the jawbone, the wisdom tooth develops in a sac. The bag may fill with fluid, forming a cyst which can hurt the jawbone, teeth and nerves. Rarely, a tumour — usually noncancerous (benign) — develops. The complication can need tissue and bone removal.
Decay: Partially affected wisdom teeth appear to have a higher risk of tooth decay (caries) compared with other teeth. This is possible because wisdom teeth are more difficult to clean, and because food and bacteria are easily stuck between the gum and a partially erupted tooth.
Gum disease: partially erupted wisdom teeth the difficulty impacting cleaning increase the risk of developing a painful, inflammatory gum condition called pericoronitis (per-ih-kor-o-NI-tis) in that area.
Your dentist or oral surgeon will examine your teeth and mouth to decide whether you have damaged wisdom teeth or if another disorder is caused by your problem. Usually, these evaluations include::
- Your dental symptoms and general health issues questions
- Checking your teeth and gums condition
- Dental X-rays that can reveal the presence of impacted teeth, as well as signs of damage to teeth or bone
You cannot prevent the impact from occurring but you can surely maintain regular six-month dental appointments for cleaning and check-ups which will enable your dentist to monitor the growth and direction of your wisdom teeth.