Wisdom teeth are a term describing third molars; they are the last teeth we grow and usually appear between ages 17 and 25. It is not unusual to need their removal (extraction) because there isn’t enough space in the mouth for them. Sometimes, wisdom teeth become impacted, meaning that they have grown either partially or completely within the jaw bone and the gum and bone surrounding them. When this happens, they can cause pain, damage to teeth in front of it, and even infections.
Symptoms of Impacted Teeth
The most common symptom of impacted teeth is pain. This generally occurs on the second to third day after the eruption and continues for a few days after that. Other symptoms which might be present are:
- • Swelling of the gum around the area.
- • Loose tooth or teeth.
- • Pus formation.
- • Change in the way the teeth fit together when biting down.
- • Fever
- • Headache
- • Sore throat if there is an infection.
- • Gum tenderness over the impacted tooth.
- • Bad breath.
- • Toothache caused by decay or injury to adjacent teeth. A tooth may also be seen visibly erupting through the gum tissue on its outer surface.
- • Bad breath resulting from infection in the mouth.
Causes of Impacted Teeth
The most common cause of impacted teeth are:
- Crowded or twisted teeth.
- The roots of the impacted tooth are embedded too deeply in the jawbone to erupt through the gum tissue properly. This is the most common reason why an impacted tooth does not erupt.
- Resorption of the roots or crown of a nearby tooth due to lack of space. This can result in an impacted tooth replacing its neighbor in the jawbone, resulting in duplication of all or part of that neighboring tooth in addition to the missing root. It can also cause the impacted tooth to develop a root from its crown, leading to infection and abscess formation.
- Lack of space forward or back, meaning there is no room for the impacted teeth to grow correctly.
- The tooth or teeth are in a sideways position in the jawbone.
Treatment of Impacted Teeth
The most common treatment for an impacted tooth is its surgical removal. The decision to remove the teeth should be based on several factors, including the number of impacted teeth, their location about other teeth, the age of the patient, and the degree of crowding, twisting, or rotated position. Surgery is harder on some people than others due to age, overall health, lifestyle choices (i.e., smoking), and medications.
Removal is often the best treatment option for impacted teeth because it can help prevent future problems such as infections, damage to adjacent teeth and jawbone, cysts, and tumors. It should be noted that impacted teeth can be left alone until they cause problems.
There are two surgical procedures for removing an impacted tooth: Extraction and Surgical exposure. An impacted tooth can only be removed with local anesthesia (numbing medication given to the gums). It will then require a few weeks of recovery before eating normally.
Surgical exposure is the most common removal method. This requires a surgical, orthodontic, and prosthodontic procedure to expose the tooth by removing bone and gum tissue from around it to be accessed for future treatment, such as crown placement.
Extraction is generally performed when the patient is older and has extensive bone loss in the area. This surgery usually takes less time to complete than surgical exposure.
Prevention of Impacted Teeth
Early removal of impacted teeth can prevent problems. Most people can have their impacted teeth removed at the age of 14 to 18 since they appear and do not usually cause much trouble. If you need your impacted teeth because you do not have enough room for them, it would be wise to have them removed before they cause any problems.
You can prevent future impacted teeth by keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Brush at least twice a day, floss daily, and visit your dentist regularly to ensure no cavities or gum disease. This is the best way to keep your impacted teeth from being impacted.
Also, see a dentist as soon as pain or swelling occurs. A dentist will determine whether or not the tooth is impacted. If so, you may need a surgical procedure to have the tooth removed.
These extra teeth can make it harder to clean your back teeth, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease. If you don’t have enough room in your jaw for all of your teeth, you are more likely to have problems. Once impacted teeth start causing you problems, it is best to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dentist will determine whether or not the tooth is impacted and can help solve the problem if it is. Often impacted teeth are removed, but other options are available.