Symptoms that may Indicate you need your Wisdom Teeth Removed
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the final set of four molar teeth that emerge during late adolescence or early adulthood (though its not uncommon for them to appear well into adulthood). Due to the evolution of our jaws and dietary habits, many adults today don’t have enough space at the back of their mouth to accommodate these new arrivals. When there isn’t enough room, wisdom teeth might not push fully through the gums or could remain trapped beneath the gum and bone. This leaves them vulnerable to infection as food and insoluble objects like seeds and corn husks can get trapped in little pockets of space between the gum and tooth.
Teeth that don’t move into their rightful position due to lack of space or becoming wedged at an angle are called “impacted” teeth. Depending on their location these impacted wisdom teeth might be completely hidden within the gum or might partially break through so a small section is visible in the mouth. In some instances, they can remain embedded deep within the jaw bone.
Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to a range of complications:
- Gum Infections: When a wisdom tooth remains partially emerged, it creates a gateway for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection, leading to pain, swelling, and gum tenderness.
- Pressure and Damage to Adjacent Teeth: An impacted wisdom tooth can push against the second molar, potentially causing damage or tooth decay in both teeth due to the tight spaces that are challenging to clean. This tooth decay happens under the gum line so can only be diagnosed from x-rays, and often goes undiagnosed until the tooth is badly affected and unsavable, resulting in tooth loss.
- Cyst Formation: In rare cases, the impacted wisdom tooth can cause a cyst (a sac filled with fluid) to develop. This cyst can be quite destructive if left untreated, causing damage the jaw, surrounding teeth, and tissues. Extremely rarely, a benign tumour might develop which requires an extensive surgical intervention with often poor outcomes for aesthetics, facial growth and development.
- Weakening of the Jaw: The pressure and potential cyst formation can thin out the jaw bone surrounding the impacted tooth. This weak area might fracture if subjected to external force, like in some sports or when eating hard foods.
- Tooth decay from insufficient space for cleaning with a toothbrush and or floss.
- Over-eruption of wisdom teeth: If there is no matching tooth for the tooth to chew food against it may continue to grow out of the jaw, looking for a surface to grind food against. This may cause it to traumatise soft tissue like your cheek or gums and cause aches and pain from muscle injury.
Wisdom Teeth Removal: A Crucial Step to Prevent Complications and Ensure Oral Health
Given these potential complications, if you suspect your wisdom teeth are impacted or causing discomfort, it’s crucial to consult with a dental professional. In many of the above situations, the recommendation might be the removal of the problematic wisdom teeth to prevent more severe complications and to maintain the overall health of your mouth.