It is generally believed that wisdom teeth got their name because they appear after a person has had a chance to mature and grow wiser. Even if the notion of a wise 18 year old is debatable, the fact remains that wisdom teeth come in late, and by the time they do come in the mouth is often full, with too little room to accommodate four new teeth.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
An impacted wisdom tooth is caused by a lack of space in your mouth when your wisdom tooth tries to come in. When the tooth does not have enough space to erupt correctly, it will often push one corner out of the gums while it angles itself incorrectly, either towards the back of the mouth, at a right angle to the other teeth so that it is growing into them, at a partial angle so that it is growing into the next tooth, or straight up and down but it stays attached the bone below.
So how can you tell if you don’t have enough room in your mouth for wisdom teeth?
As an individual you can’t always tell. There are cases in which impacted wisdom teeth don’t cause any side effects, however more often than not they do cause trouble. The four signs you need to watch out for are pain, inflammation, infection, and damage to surrounding teeth. These four symptoms are the result of…
Damage to the other teeth – When a wisdom tooth grows at an angle so that it runs into another tooth, this collision can cause pain and it increases the risk of an infection. Additionally, this extra pressure can mess up the alignment of your other teeth, requiring an orthodontist to straighten.
Decay – When a tooth only makes it halfway out of the gums it is very hard to clean. Partially impacted wisdom teeth have also been shown to be good reservoirs for bacteria to grow. It can be hard to make sure you brush all sides of a tooth when it is jutting out at an odd angle.
Gum Disease – When you have trouble cleaning an area of your gums you risk developing a condition called pericoronitis. This disease results in painful inflammation of the area, which makes it even harder to clean.
Cysts – If a wisdom tooth creates a sac within the jaw, either because it partially erupts or doesn’t erupt at all, the space can fill with fluid and form a cyst. Inside the jaw is really dangerous place for a cyst to form because it can cause nerve damage, jaw damage, and even (rarely) a tumor.
So what should I do if I think I have impacted wisdom teeth?
The first thing you need to do is schedule a dental appointment. This is not an issue that you can deal with on your own, and if you do have impacted wisdom teeth you may need to have them removed surgically.
Dr. Coleman is a leading cosmetic dentist in the United States, as well as an international lecturer in dental techniques and technology. With a great sense of humor and a sense of compassion for others, Dr. Coleman takes pride in improving the lives and smiles of his patients. To learn more about Dr. Coleman or his practice, visit his Facebook and Twitter pages!