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.
What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
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.
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. (1) 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. (3)
Treating Impacted Wisdom Teeth
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. 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. (2)
Surgery for Impacted Wisdom Teeth
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.