How to Know if You Have Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Signs and Treatment Options

BY: Dr. Sandeep Sharma
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How to Know if You Have Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Signs and Treatment Options

Wisdom teeth can become impacted, and it’s a common problem because it can cause much discomfort. If you’re starting to experience persistent pain in the backmost part of your mouth, it may be time to take a closer look at your wisdom teeth.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of the signs of having impacted wisdom teeth, as well as the various treatment options available. If any of this sounds familiar, keep reading!

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

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Wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth positioned in the upper and lower jaws. These are the third molars, and they usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 21 but may differ depending on some factors. They are said to be one of the toughest and widest teeth that can grind foods. Historically, our ancestors survived by eating raw and tough foods, and they have larger jaws that can accommodate wisdom teeth. However, as centuries have passed, human jaws have become too small for wisdom teeth. Hence, their development can result in impaction.

What Is an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

Wisdom teeth can grow in alignment with your other teeth and not require extraction, but unfortunately, third molars can also become impacted. It happens when they grow at a wrong angle or get trapped in your gums or jawbone.

If wisdom teeth only partially erupted through your gums, it’s easy for bacteria to enter the space between the gums and the tooth and cause cavities or infection. If impaction is severe and the gum tissue around the tooth breaks open, you’re at risk for various problems that may compromise your oral health.

What Are the Common Causes of An Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

Impacted wisdom teeth are a common oral health issue. They occur when there is not enough space in the mouth for the wisdom teeth to erupt or when they come in at an angle that prevents them from properly breaking through the gum line.

A small jaw or teeth misalignment can also be a risk factor for impaction. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth may be hereditary. The dentist can diagnose them with a dental exam and x-rays.

You may also know whether your growing wisdom teeth are impacted by being aware of some common signs.

How to Know if You Have an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

Look out for a few signs and symptoms if you think your wisdom teeth may be impacted. Sometimes, there may not be any severe symptoms, and they are only discovered when an x-ray is taken. Other times, the symptoms may develop suddenly or gradually over time. The following are the common signs of impacted wisdom teeth:

  • Tenderness in the gums
  • Redness of the gums
  • Some bleeding in the gum area
  • Pain at the backmost part of the jaw when you chew
  • Swelling of the gums
  • Adjacent teeth are becoming a little crowded or crooked.
  • Difficulty in opening the mouth.
  • In some cases, you may notice an unpleasant taste in your mouth and bad breath.

Many people dealing with impacted wisdom teeth experience severe pain that comes and goes. Usually, you will experience it for a few days and then disappear for weeks or months. However, the pain will eventually come back, which may indicate that there is a problem. If you experience any of these symptoms in the area behind your second molar, we suggest visiting your dentist. They can determine if you have impacted wisdom teeth and recommend a course of treatment.

Can You Prevent an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

You can’t prevent an impaction, but keeping regular dental appointments for cleaning and checkups can allow your dentist to monitor the growth and emergence of your wisdom teeth. Regularly updated dental X-rays may also show a clear picture of your teeth and jaw. This way, they will see if the wisdom teeth are in a healthy position or not.

Early detection gives you a better chance of avoiding complications and arranging proper dental treatment before any symptoms worsen. In general, dental professionals may suggest having your wisdom teeth removed, particularly if they have the risk of causing problems. In some cases, however, leaving the teeth in their natural position may be best if they are not causing pain or other problems. You and your dentist can make this decision after carefully considering all the risks and benefits involved.

What Is Involved in Impacted Wisdom Tooth Removal?

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Wisdom teeth removal is a common dental procedure recommended if an oral examination and x-ray reveal that your wisdom teeth may cause dental problems for you in the future. A simple extraction is reserved for removing a wisdom tooth that can be easily accessed or not complicated. On the other hand, if your wisdom teeth are impacted or fully trapped under the gums or jaw bone, the dentist will perform a surgical extraction.

Generally, wisdom teeth removal surgery entails the following:

  • Before surgery, your dentist will administer a numbing agent. There are different types of anaesthesia, but general anaesthesia is most common for wisdom tooth extraction surgery. Its effects will put you to sleep throughout the procedure and allow you not to feel any pain. In other cases, the dentist may use local anaesthesia instead. This type of anaesthesia will not make you sleep, but it will numb the tooth and the area surrounding it.

  • The dentist will make a small incision at the gum line to see the impacted wisdom tooth. Then, using an elevator and forceps, they will widen the tooth socket by applying pressure to the tooth from multiple angles. If some bone is blocking the way, they must cut through it. This process may take a few minutes.

  • Typically, an impacted wisdom tooth needs to be divided into parts to be removed. This way, the tooth can be easily removed, and there’s less pressure and damage to surrounding structures.

  • Once the wisdom tooth has been removed, the dentist will clean the empty tooth socket and ensure no debris or fragments are left. The extraction site will be closed with stitches.

  • Finally, the dentist will place clean gauze pads over the wound.

  • After the surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room, where you will be closely monitored. You will be given pain medication as needed and informed on proper aftercare. You may be discharged the same day or stay overnight, depending on your condition. It is essential to follow all instructions given to you by your dentist to ensure a successful recovery and avoid problems like dry sockets.

What Are the Risks and Complications of Not Removing an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

Many people don’t realize the potential risks that can come from not removing an impacted wisdom tooth. If these teeth are overlooked, they can cause problems that can significantly affect your oral and overall health. The following are the possible dental complications:

  • Damage to nearby teeth.
    The pressure caused by the pushing of the wisdom tooth against the second molar can dissolve its roots, causing irreparable damage.

  • Crowding.
    Troublesome wisdom teeth may push on the adjacent teeth, causing them to become crooked or crowded.

  • Gum disease.
    The area surrounding the impacted tooth can be difficult to reach. Hence, maintaining its cleanliness can be a challenge. Poor oral health comes with a variety of problems, including gum disease.

  • Tooth decay. The area between the gums and the wisdom tooth can trap food particles and plaque, which cannot be easily removed. This increases the risk of tooth decay, and this may progress unnoticed since it is covered by the gums.

  • Oral cyst.
    A wisdom tooth develops in a sac within the jawbone. This sac can be filled with fluid and form a cyst, damaging the jawbone, teeth, and nerves. In rare cases, a tumour may develop that may require soft tissue and bone removal.

Final Thoughts

An impacted wisdom tooth is like a ticking time bomb for your oral health. It may not cause any signs or symptoms until the damage is already present. That’s why it’s important to book regular dental appointments so that an oral health professional can check for any potential problems with your teeth.

While it cannot be prevented, another way to determine if you have them is to look for common indications. Such as redness of the gums, painful chewing or biting, swelling of the gums, and severe jaw pain. You may experience some pain that subsides and come back after a few days, weeks, or months. Most dental professionals will recommend wisdom teeth extraction in cases of impaction.

At Clear Choice Dental, we would be happy to help you get the relief you need. Hence, if you suspect that you have impacted wisdom teeth or experience frequent jaw pain, please book an appointment online or call our dental clinic at (08) 9345 0455 so that we can help address the issue as soon as possible.

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