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Bruce M. MacNicol, DDS, MS, FRCD (C)
Michael T. Jackson, BA, DDS, MSc, FRCD (C)
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Are Your Wisdom Teeth Impacted?

Posted on 11/25/2015 by Bruce M MacNicol
A woman suffering from a impacted wisdom tooth.As you probably know, many people need to have their wisdom teeth removed in order to prevent future problems. Impaction is one of the most common issues that can occur if the teeth don't have enough room to erupt properly, and unfortunately, this can cause a variety of issues. By better understanding what it means for wisdom teeth to be impacted and the symptoms that may result, you can get the treatment that you need.

What Causes an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

The wisdom teeth can become impacted when they don't have enough room to erupt or to develop normally. The wisdom teeth usually erupt in the late teen years through the mid-20s. While some people have teeth that are able to emerge without a problem, in many cases, the mouth is too crowded for the wisdom teeth to emerge normally. This can lead to the teeth becoming trapped.

In some cases, even if a wisdom tooth is impacted, it can partially emerge. This leads to part of the crown being visible, or the crown may never actually break through the gums. This could cause the tooth to grow in at an angle, possibly causing the rest of the teeth to be pushed out of alignment.

Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

While your wisdom teeth won't always cause symptoms when they are impacted, if they develop an infection, damage the surrounding teeth, or cause dental problems, you may see some of these signs:

•  Swollen or red gums
•  Bleeding or tender gums
•  Swelling around your jaw
•  Jaw pain
•  Bad breath
•  A foul taste in your mouth
•  Problems with opening your mouth

If you notice any of these symptoms within the area behind your final molar, they could be the sign of an impacted wisdom tooth. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist.

Problems Associated with Impacted Wisdom Teeth

When the wisdom teeth are impacted, it can result in several problems within the mouth:

•  Cysts. The wisdom teeth will develop within a pocket in the jawbone. If this space fills with fluid, a cyst can form and damage the nerves, teeth, and jawbone. In rare cases, a tumor may develop.
•  Damage to the surrounding teeth. If the wisdom teeth push against the second molars, this can cause crowding problems. You may require orthodontic treatment in order to straighten out the teeth after they shift.
•  Gum disease. It can be extremely difficult to clean impacted teeth, especially when they are only partially erupted. This can increase your risk of developing a condition known as periocoronitis, a painful, inflammatory gum disease, in that area.
•  Tooth decay. When the wisdom teeth are partially impacted, they are at a higher risk for decay than the rest of the teeth. This is likely due to the fact that they are harder to clean and can get bacteria and food trapped around them easily.

Removing Impacted Wisdom Teeth

If your wisdom teeth are impacted and causing problems, they will likely need to be removed surgically. During your procedure, you'll likely receive general anesthesia, allowing you to sleep throughout the entire process. Your oral surgeon will cut an incision into the gums to remove any bone that could be blocking access to the tooth. The tooth will then be removed, and your oral surgeon will pack the empty socket with gauze and stitch the wound shut.

Recovery is generally routine, although you may experience some pain and bleeding afterwards. Some people do develop dry sockets or infection, but your oral surgeon will provide thorough post-care instructions to help minimize the risk. If you have additional questions about impacted wisdom teeth, contact our office.
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