Wisdom teeth are the adult teeth a person receives – usually in their late teens or early adulthood. Normally there are 4 molars which consist of 2 at each end of the upper jaw and lower jaw, positioned at the rear of the mouth. That said, some people have no wisdom teeth at all, whereas others may only get one or two.
Impacted wisdom teeth can easily damage other teeth, cause pain and other dental problems. In some cases there may not be any indication of a problem but because impacted teeth are hard to clean they’re more likely to develop tooth decay or gum disease than other teeth.
What causes impacted wisdom teeth?
When wisdom teeth grow in at an awkward angle or there is insufficient room for them in the mouth, they become impacted.
An impacted tooth may erupt partially, leaving some of the crown visible or it may never erupt through the gums at all. There are several ways a wisdom tooth may be impacted. These include:
- Mesial impaction – This is the most common form of impaction and is when the tooth is tilted too far forward and is pushing the molar in front of it.
- Horizontal impaction – This is probably the worse and most painful type of impaction to have. The molar is lying on its side away from the surface and pushes into the molar next to it.
- Vertical impaction – These teeth are coming in reasonably straight which means they hardly ever need removing and should have no problem fitting into the mouth.
- Distal impaction – This is the least common form of impaction and is the opposite of a mesial impaction as it is tilted toward the back of the mouth.
Common signs of impacted wisdom teeth
One factor about Impacted wisdom teeth is that they don’t always have symptoms and sometimes the only way a dental professional knows they are impacted is after having examined you during a regular dental x-ray.
However, over time, as they progress, they can cause symptoms such as:
- Bleeding or tender gums
- Swelling around the jaw
- Excruciating pain at the back of the mouth and even,
- Swollen glands in the neck and shoulders
What can impacted wisdom teeth cause?
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a variety of dental problems. Including:
- Damage to other teeth – The second molar can be damaged by the wisdom tooth pushing against it which raises the chance of infection. Also, the pressure involved may lead to crowding issues with the rest of the teeth and you could find that orthodontic treatment is necessary to straighten your smile.
- Decay – It’s been shown that partially visible wisdom teeth are more at risk of decay than other teeth. The reason for this is that bacteria and food particles get easily trapped between the partially erupted tooth and the gum, making it harder to clean.
- Cysts – A wisdom tooth forms and grows inside a sac inside the jawbone. This can fill with fluid and form a cyst which may damage the teeth, nerves, and jawbone. On rare occasions, a benign tumour develops, and this often necessitates the removal of both tissue and bone.
- Gum disease – Because it’s difficult to clean wisdom teeth that are only partially visible, there’s a higher risk of developing periodontitis – severe gum disease.
- Pain – Other causes of impacted wisdom teeth include pain, swelling, and difficulty in opening your jaws
Although you can’t stop wisdom teeth from becoming impacted, your family dentist should be able to utilise regular dental x-rays to monitor your wisdom teeth and track their growth.
Do you know where your wisdom teeth are?
If you’re overdue a dental check-up or you haven’t had a dental x-ray in a while, then you may be unaware that your wisdom teeth are developing or that they are impacted. Why not schedule an appointment with the experienced friendly team at Randwick Smiles. We can evaluate the situation and determine whether removing your wisdom teeth would be the best course of action.
Wisdom teeth removal is usually carried out as a standard tooth extraction in surgery under local anaesthetic but more complex cases may require surgical extraction in a hospital setting carried out by an oral surgeon under general anaesthetic.
Either way, you will need to take things easy following the procedure and a couple of day’s rest is recommended.
Call us today on (02) 8188 4625 or book online to schedule an appointment.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.