Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom tooth is the third molar on each corner of our mouth, so there should be 4 wisdom teeth. These teeth are the last ones to come up in adults. If wisdom teeth are not able to arise completely due to some obstruction, they are called impacted wisdom teeth and can result in pain, infection and inflammation.

What Are the Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth can come up anywhere between the age of 17 to 25. Since these are the last teeth to erupt and are present at the very corner of our mouth, complications can accompany their eruption. These complications can sometimes result in different symptoms and at other times lead to no problem at all. The symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth may include:

  • Pain around impacted wisdom teeth
  • Difficulty in opening the mouth
  • Pain in the jaw or headache
  • Painful, inflammatory and swollen gums
  • Bad taste in the affected areas
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes around the neck
  • Bad breath

Though these symptoms can help a dentist in identifying impacted wisdom teeth, mostly dental x-rays confirm whether a wisdom tooth is affected or not.

What Causes Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

Our teeth erupt twice: first when we are babies and second when our baby teeth give way to the permanent ones. Our wisdom teeth erupt during the second phrase. We have already known that impacted wisdom teeth occur because wisdom teeth can't completely erupt through a gum. But what hampers this process? Here are 3 explanations:

  • The area where wisdom tooth needs to erupt is over-crowded because of the presence of other teeth.
  • There is not enough space in the jaw bone for the tooth to appear straight.
  • The teeth do not erupt straight like other teeth; instead, it arises in a tilted manner.

Are There Any Complications?

An impacted wisdom tooth is very common and mostly causes no discomforts. However, sometimes it can lead to certain complications. Some of these complications are:

  • If the impacted tooth is pushing the tooth adjacent to it, that tooth can get damaged, requiring treatment from an orthodontic.
  • Since impacted wisdom teeth are partially up, bacteria and food particles get easily lodged in these teeth which increases the chances of teeth decay.
  • An impacted wisdom tooth is very difficult to clean. So pericoronitis, a very painful inflammatory gum disease will occur.
  • If the wisdom tooth does not appear but develops inside the jawbone, a cyst can get created. This cyst can harm the nerves, teeth and the jaw bone. In rare cases, a benign tumor can occur, which would require removal of bones and tissues.
  • Misalignment of the bite is another complication because an impacted wisdom tooth would put pressure on the molar next to it, which would in turn push the tooth adjacent to it.

How to Deal With Impacted Wisdom Teeth

In case your impacted wisdom teeth are worrying you, your dentist would give you suggestions and find the best treatment option for you. Here are the main steps in dealing with impacted wisdom teeth.

1. Deal With Asymptomatic Wisdom Teeth

If your impacted wisdom tooth doesn't cause any pain, then it is called an asymptomatic wisdom tooth. The dental community has mixed opinions for such cases:

Some advice removal of such teeth for the following reasons:

  • An impacted wisdom tooth showing no symptom will not always remain so.
  • Since the impacted teeth are there because of some obstruction, cleaning such teeth would be hard, increasing the risk of disease.
  • The removal of such teeth becomes difficult once complications arise during old age.

On the other hand, those advocating the opposite give the following arguments:

  • There is very little proof to suggest that improper wisdom teeth which show no sign in young adults cause complications later in life.
  • The cost and possibility of complications of the procedure outweigh its benefits.

In this case, your dentist will keep on monitoring your teeth for any disease, tooth decay or complication, and help you to choose the best treatment option.

2. Remove Impacted Wisdom Teeth with Surgery

If your impacted wisdom teeth are causing discomforts, then surgical removal is a possible solution.

When to remove your impacted wisdom teeth:

  • Tooth decay in the affected tooth
  • Formation of tumors or cysts in such teeth
  • A wisdom tooth causing damage to surrounding teeth
  • The impacted teeth causing a gum disease or infection

If tooth extraction is your only solution, it would be carried out as an outpatient procedure. The following are the main steps of the extraction procedure:

  • The types of anesthesia depend on your condition and the nature of the complication. It could be local anesthesia just to freeze your mouth so you do not feel any pain; you might be given sedation anesthesia to reduce the level of your consciousness; or a general anesthesia could be given to knock you out completely.
  • While removing impacted wisdom teeth, the dentist may make cuts to your gums and even remove bones which are impeding him in reaching the root of the affected tooth. Once the tooth is removed, your wound would be closed by stitches.

The process of impacted wisdom teeth removal can cause pain, stopping you from opening your mouth completely. Cold compresses and pain medication can be used to manage the pain.

Watch the video below to know how to recover quickly and safely after wisdom teeth extraction: 

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