Impacted wisdom teeth are third molars which grow at the back of your mouth. Most people have four wisdom teeth at the back of the mouth — two on the top, and two in the bottom.
Impacted wisdom teeth can also result in pain, and damage to other teeth. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth may also cause no apparent problems. But because they are hard to clean, they can be more vulnerable towards tooth decay and gum disease as compared to other teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth are generally the cause of pain or other dental complications and thus, they are usually removed even if they show no current symptoms of pain.
Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth don’t always have symptoms. However, when there is an infection in the wisdom tooth, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender and/or bleeding gums
- Jaw pain
- Bad breath
- Bad breathe or unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Difficulty while opening your mouth
Causes of Wisdom Tooth Pain
Wisdom teeth become impacted as they don’t have enough room to come in or develop normally. They usually emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. Some people have wisdom teeth which emerge without any troubles and then get lined up with the other teeth behind the second molars. However, in many cases, the mouth is too crowded for third molars to develop normally. Hence, these crowded third molar teeth become trapped or impacted.
An impacted wisdom tooth may partially emerge through the gums fully impacted. Whether it is partially or fully impacted, the tooth may:
- Grow at an angle towards the second molar tooth
- Grow at an angle towards the back of your mouth
- Grow at a right angle to the other teeth
- Grow straight up or down
Complications Caused by Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause several problems like:
- Damage other teeth- If the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar teeth, then it might damage the second molar or increase the risk of infection in the given area. This pressure may result in problems like crowding of the other teeth or needing orthodontic treatment in order to straighten other teeth.
- Create cysts- Impacted wisdom tooth develops in a gap between jawbone. The sac can fill with fluid, and form a cyst which can damage the jawbone, teeth, and nerves. Rarely, a tumor is also developed and may require removal of tissue and bone.
- Tooth decay- The partially or completely impacted wisdom teeth can appear to be at higher risk of tooth decay as compared to other teeth. This probably happens because wisdom teeth are harder to clean, and the food and bacteria can get easily trapped between the gums and the partially erupted wisdom tooth.
- Gum disease- The difficulty cleaning impacted, partially erupted wisdom teeth increases the risk of developing a painful, inflammatory gum condition called pericoronitis in that area.
You cannot prevent the impact from occurring but you can surely maintain regular six-month dental appointments for cleaning and check-ups which will enable your dentist to monitor the growth and direction of your wisdom teeth.