What are impacted wisdom teeth?

What is impacted wisdom teeth, and how are they different to normal wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to come through in your mouth, and will generally appear between the ages of about 17 and 25. While not everyone will develop wisdom teeth, most people have four wisdom teeth. Studies have shown that up to 72% of people who do will suffer from some form of impacted wisdom teeth. Having said this, many wisdom teeth are removed unnecessarily.

Impacted wisdom teeth are wisdom teeth which are stuck in the jaw, and occur when the emerging tooth does not fully come through into the mouth. This could be because the emerging wisdom tooth is blocked by other teeth, is in a bad position, or that there simply is not enough room in your jaw for it. Because the tooth does not have an open connection to the mouth, the impacted wisdom tooth can cause an inflammation or infection, and may even damage adjacent teeth and the bone. In rare cases, it is even possible that an impacted wisdom tooth can cause a cyst to grow in the jaw. Left untreated, it is possible for impacted wisdom teeth to cause a severe infection.

Impacted wisdom teeth are generally categorised by the direction in which they are impacting, the depth, the space available for it to erupt in your mouth and the presence of disease and other symptoms.

Some studies suggest impacted wisdom teeth may have become more common due to a softer modern diet. Genetics also plays a role in the jaw and tooth size and the likelihood that you will suffer from impacted wisdom teeth.

How do I know if I have impacted wisdom teeth?

Some of the common symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth include:

  • Swelling of the gum in the back of the mouth
  • Difficulty opening your jaw
  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Pain when opening your mouth
  • Pain when chewing or biting

What can be done for impacted wisdom teeth?

Not everyone who develops wisdom teeth will suffer from impacted wisdom teeth but certainly, a significant number of people will develop some sort of wisdom tooth related problem.

Antibiotics can help in the short term with any infection associated with impacted wisdom teeth, but sometimes extraction of the impacted wisdom teeth is the only way to permanently alleviate the symptoms.

The best way to monitor wisdom teeth growth is through regular check-ups with your practitioner at Wahroonga Family Dental Centre. Through screening techniques such as X-Rays and radiographs, wisdom teeth can be detected in adolescence, allowing your dentist to closely and effectively monitor their progress, and accurately determine if the intervention will be required.

It may be possible for your Wahroonga Family Dental Centre practitioner to remove your impacted wisdom teeth, but more severe cases may need to be referred to an oral surgeon.

For more information on impacted wisdom teeth, or to book a consultation, please contact Wahroonga Family Dental Centre today.