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Impacted Wisdom Tooth: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

What are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth, as the third and final set of molars placed in the very back of the mouth, are the last permanent teeth people get usually in their late teens or early adulthood. Even though the majority of people have wisdom teeth, it is not uncommon for one or more of these teeth to not develop at all. Both of the scenarios are completely fine and normal.

What is an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

An impacted wisdom tooth, on the other hand, is the tooth that does not have enough room to break through the gum or is stuck under it. Such wisdom tooth is a lot more prone to tooth decay and diseases, and generally causes pain and other serious dental complications.

If you are interested to learn more about impacted wisdom teeth, the symptoms, causes as well as their treatment, keep reading.

Symptoms of an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

One thing to remember about impacted wisdom tooth is that it does not always show severe symptoms. However, when infected, the impacted wisdom tooth causes a number of dental problems and if your impacted wisdom tooth is infected you may experience some of these symptoms or signs:

  • Bad breath
  • Swollen or red gums
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Pain in the jaw
  • Bleeding or tender gums
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Swollen Jaw

The pain that such infection causes can occur for a few days and disappear. Usually, it comes back weeks or months later, which will signify that a problem exists. If you experience one of these signs or symptoms in the area behind your last molar, we recommend visiting your dentists as this condition suggests that you are dealing with issues related to your impacted wisdom tooth/teeth.

For this matter, our professional team of dentists at Modern Day Smiles can help determine the exact problem that you have, therefore offer medical advice and solution dependent on your specific needs.

Tooth impaction
Tooth Impaction

What Causes an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

Usually emerging sometime between the ages of 17 and 25, wisdom teeth, more often than not, do not develop normally. The reasons why this happens vary, but among the most common reasons is the lack of space in the jaw. Another way for a wisdom tooth to get impacted is by growing at a wrong angle, which later pressures the other teeth and creates a series of dental problems.

There are two kinds of impacted wisdom teeth. The first type, partially impacted wisdom tooth, is a tooth that emerges partially, resulting in some of the crown being visible. A fully impacted wisdom tooth is the one that never breaks through the gums.

Regardless of whether it is a partially or fully impacted wisdom tooth, it may:

  • Grow down or straight up like the other teeth but remain trapped within the jawbone
  • Grow at an angle towards the back of the mouth
  • Grow at an angle toward the second molar i.e. the next tooth
  • Grow at the right angle to the other teeth, in a position where it seems like it is laying down inside the jawbone

What Are the Complications That an Impacted Wisdom Tooth Can Cause?

Reasonably, impacted wisdom teeth do initiate multiple dental problems in the mouth, some more serious than others.

  • Gum disease – The partially erupted wisdom tooth increases the difficulty of properly cleaning the gums as well as the risk of inflammatory, painful gum condition known as pericoronitis.
  • Cysts – The sac within the jawbone, where the wisdom teeth are developed, can fill with fluid, therefore form a cyst that can damage the nerves, teeth and the jawbone itself. Rarely, a noncancerous tumor can develop. Such a complication usually requires removal of both, the bone and the tissue.
  • Damage the other teeth – In the cases when the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, it increases the risk of various infections in the area. Additionally, the pressure can induce crowding problems, hence require orthodontic treatment for straightening the other teeth.
  • Decay – Compared to other teeth, the partially erupted wisdom teeth are exposed to a much larger risk of tooth decay. The probable cause of this condition can be found in the fact that partially impacted wisdom teeth are a lot harder to clean; therefore, bacteria and food can be easily trapped between the tooth and the gum.

How Is an Impacted Wisdom Tooth Diagnosed?

If your wisdom tooth or teeth are impacted, your dentist will be able to determine it by taking an X-ray of your mouth and examining your teeth. The X-ray will clearly show whether or not your wisdom teeth are impacted and if other bones or teeth are damaged. In case of impacted wisdom tooth or teeth, your dentist should discuss the risks and the benefits of impacted wisdom teeth surgery.

How is an impacted wisdom tooth treated?

Sometimes, minor irritations related to the impacted wisdom tooth can be relieved with warm salt water or pain relievers that you probably already have at home. However, if the pain caused by an impacted wisdom tooth does not go away or keeps coming back, it means that the usual treatment is to take out the impacted wisdom tooth. Depending on the location of the tooth, the impacted wisdom tooth removal may last 5 minutes to half an hour.

To have an impacted tooth extracted, the patients are often sent to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. The typical process includes discussing the procedure, the risks as well as the sedatives and type of anesthesia that is to be used. Prior to the surgery, you will also be advised not to eat for at least six hours.

Following the procedure, it is completely normal to have swelling of the jaw and the cheeks. Eating certain foods may be hard as well. Although complications after the surgery rarely happen, there always is a possibility, so you need to carefully follow your surgeon’s or dentist’s instructions.

The surgery for removing impacted wisdom teeth, even though it sounds scary, is a routine method for easing the pain these teeth can cause. This surgery usually is less complicated when the patient is under the age of 21 because of the ability of their bone and tissue to heal better and faster.

At Modern Day Smiles, we have a crew of experienced orthodontists that not only can help you make the right decision but also perform as painless tooth extractions as possible. Both of our clinics, in Tampa and St. Petersburg, accept various insurance policies and feature cutting-edge technology that allows our team to be best at what they do for the most affordable prices.

Do not let the pain win! Contact one of our offices today!