Wisdom teeth are the final four of your 32 teeth to erupt. According to experts, these teeth usually appear between the ages of 17 to 25. When one of these teeth does not have enough room to come in as expected, it is considered impacted. Teeth may get twisted, tilted, or shifted as they try to emerge.
There are various degrees of impacted wisdom teeth, established by where the teeth lie within the jaw. Soft tissue impaction happens when the crown of the tooth has pierced through the bone, but the gum is still concealing part of the tooth. When the tooth has partially erupted, but a portion of the tooth remains sunken in the jawbone, this is considered to be partial impaction. Complete impaction occurs when the tooth is entirely encased by the jawbone.
Impacted wisdom teeth are not always going to show symptoms, which means you could have impacted teeth and not even know about it. If symptoms do arise, it is often the result of the gum on top of the tooth being infected or swollen.
Symptoms may include:
- Pain or jaw stiffness close to an impacted tooth.
- Pain or irritation from a tooth coming in at the wrong angle and rubbing against your tongue, cheek, or top or bottom of your mouth.
- An infected swelling in the flap of gum tissue that has formed over an impacted tooth that has broken partway through the gum.
Crowding of surrounding teeth.
- Tooth decay or gum disease if there is not enough room to sufficiently clean your wisdom tooth and nearby teeth.
- Some individuals experience stiffness of the jaw or swollen lymph nodes on the neck.
If you experience any of these impacted wisdom tooth symptoms, visit your dentist as soon as possible. Impacted wisdom teeth that are not treated can result in gum disease and tooth decay. You may also cause damage to surrounding teeth, including infection and overcrowding of teeth. In some extreme cases, impacted wisdom teeth can cause cysts or even tumours.
Regular dental appointments and x-rays can help spot impacted teeth early before they even start to show symptoms. In most cases, your dentist will recommend surgery to remove the impacted teeth.
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What causes complications with wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth that are healthy and in the correct position typically don’t cause problems. However, you may have a problem if any of the following occur:
- Your wisdom teeth push through your gums only partway because of a shortage of space. This can result in a flap of gum tissue growing over them. The flap can trap pieces of food and lead to a gum infection.
- They come in crooked or pointed in the wrong direction.
- Your jaw isn’t big enough to give them room. Your wisdom teeth may get stuck or impacted in your jaw and not be able to break through your gums.
- They are so far back in your mouth or crowded that you experience trouble cleaning around them.
- A cyst forms. This can harm the bone or roots.
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The majority of problems with wisdom teeth affect people that are between the ages of 15 and 25. Individuals older than 30 usually don’t have issues that require their wisdom teeth to be removed.