If there’s ever an oral health problem you want to avoid, it’s impacted wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, you can’t really control the size of your mouth or how your wisdom teeth grow in. Since impacted wisdom teeth are most often caused by wisdom teeth growing in improperly, there is little you can do to prevent this condition. Fortunately, there are treatment options to consider.
While sometimes the teeth grow into a jaw that is large enough to accommodate them, most people do not have ample room for their wisdom teeth, causing impacted wisdom teeth. That’s because most of us have room for approximately 28 teeth, which is how many you have before your wisdom teeth come in. Wisdom teeth, otherwise known as your third molars, are the last teeth to grow in and often arrive between the age of 17 and 25. They serve no purpose as our diet today consists of softer foods and we have the ability to cut food into small pieces we can easily chew. Often the wisdom teeth either fail to come through in proper alignment or they fail to emerge all the way through the gumline. This causes the impacted wisdom teeth that are trapped between the gum tissue and jawbone.
Since you don’t really need wisdom teeth, you may not care if you keep your wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, in most cases, impacted wisdom teeth don’t go unnoticed.
- Swelling and Infection: There is often significant swelling, pain, and infection that come with impacted wisdom teeth and the situation should not go untreated. In addition, since impacted wisdom teeth can damage nearby gums, teeth, and bone, many dentists will recommend having them surgically removed. Impacted wisdom teeth are more difficult to remove, leave you at greater risk for complications from surgery, and can permanently damage bones and other teeth. Also, the longer wisdom teeth pain persists, the more likely it is that an infection will result from bacteria entering open tissue. Oral infections can have a negative impact on general systemic health.
- Impacted Wisdom Teeth Pain: Wisdom teeth pain can be a sign of impacted wisdom teeth, which occurs when wisdom teeth are prevented from emerging by the jaw bone or other teeth. Clues that your wisdom teeth could be impacted include jaw pain and tenderness, redness and swelling of the gums around the tooth, bad breath, or a bad taste when you bite down on food. Impacted wisdom teeth can also put you at risk for cysts, which are pockets of fluid that form around the tooth. Rarely, tumors can form around the tooth. Cysts and tumors can result in permanent damage to your jaw bone as well as your other teeth. Wisdom teeth pain is not always a sign that your wisdom teeth are impacted, but the longer you wait to see a dental professional, the more likely it is that your wisdom teeth can become impacted.
Your dental professional will take x-rays before your wisdom tooth removal to identify the location of the tooth or teeth to be removed. Wisdom teeth fall into four categories based on how they are positioned in the mouth:
- Full-Bony Impacted: This type of wisdom tooth removal is the most difficult because the wisdom tooth is completely stuck in the jaw.
- Partial-Bony Impacted: In this case, wisdom tooth removal involves extracting a tooth that is partly stuck in the jaw.
- Soft-Tissue Impacted: This type of wisdom tooth removal is less complicated because the tooth is just stuck under the gum.
- Erupted: This type of wisdom tooth removal is the simplest because the tooth has already appeared in the mouth.
If you think you may be experiencing impacted wisdom teeth pain, you should make an appointment to see your dentist or oral surgeon. Your doctor will be able to tell you if your pain is actually wisdom teeth pain. At this stage, the most common solution for the pain is simply to have the wisdom teeth removed.
While surgery may sound scary, it’s very common and often less painful than the discomfort associated with impacted wisdom teeth. In fact, approximately 85 percent of wisdom teeth will eventually need to be removed.
Impacted wisdom teeth can be removed at an oral surgeon’s office. The surgeon will numb your mouth to avoid discomfort during the procedure, and will then make a simple incision to remove one or all of your impacted wisdom teeth. Once the impacted wisdom teeth are extracted, stitches will be used to close the incision and allow the gums to heal. You may experience bleeding for a few days following the procedure. It’s very important to follow your dental professional’s instructions for post-surgical care after having your impacted wisdom teeth removed. Once your mouth is completely healed and your dental professional has conducted your post-surgical appointment, you should return to your normal oral hygiene routine to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. It’s best to maintain a diligent oral hygiene routine using a variety of products designed to improve your oral health.
Wisdom teeth extraction can be done either in your dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office. Either local or general anesthesia can be used to help you avoid discomfort during the procedure. To remove the impacted tooth:
An incision is made in your gums so the infected teeth and jawbone can be reached. Once the teeth are extracted, you may need stitches to close the incision.
The socket where your teeth were located will be packed with gauze to control bleeding and promote healing.
Once your wisdom teeth are removed, your dental professional or oral surgeon should give you clear instructions on how to care for your mouth. Be sure to follow their instructions to ensure a prompt recovery
Whether you choose a conservative or surgical approach to treating your wisdom teeth infection, take action quickly. If you ignore the symptoms of wisdom teeth infection, the problem is likely to worsen. Also, the older you get, the more challenging an extraction procedure can be. So, if you experience wisdom teeth infection, don’t delay—seek treatment and you’ll experience great relief once your mouth is back in good health.
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