When it comes to your mouth, there are fewer things more painful than impacted wisdom teeth. We always thought the pain of teething was reserved for early childhood, where we wouldn’t really remember it when we were adults. But sadly, nature has conspired to save some of that pain for our early adult life, as well. Not only that, but it’s one of the worst things that can happen to your teeth naturally. But what are wisdom teeth, and why do they become impacted in the first place?
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Become Impacted?
Despite it being an incredibly painful experience and a complex treatment, wisdom teeth become impacted for a very simple reason. You see, all of the other teeth in your mouth tend to develop around the same time, and all arrange themselves in your mouth naturally. Sometimes they will be quite tight, other times there will be gaps, but usually, they will sort themselves out (sometimes with a bit of help!). But your wisdom teeth don’t come in with the rest of your teeth. Instead, they develop much later in your life, usually in your late teens or early twenties. This causes a lot of problems, as 4 new, fairly big teeth try to force their way into an already packed jaw. Usually wisdom teeth will grow without problems, but sometimes there is just no room in your mouth for them to grow through the gums (also known as ‘erupting’), and so they grow in at an angle, sideways or even get stuck below the gum line.
Symptoms Of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
There are a few different things that happen when your wisdom teeth become impacted. The most common symptom is pain in your jaw, particularly in the areas around your gums where the teeth are trying to break through. You might also get headaches that settle at the back of your head or at the sides, which can indicate problems with your wisdom teeth. A few people also experience problems chewing normally, struggling to open and close their mouths as they would usually. Changes in your mouth like reddening of the gums, swelling in your jaw, sudden bleeding gums and even newly occurring bad breath can also point towards impacted wisdom teeth. In short, if you start to notice changes in your mouth or experiencing jaw-based pain, it’s worth checking out.
Complications With Impacted Wisdom Teeth
When your wisdom teeth become impacted it can cause a lot of problems. The most common is overcrowding of the mouth, which is where wisdom teeth have to force their way up through existing teeth and push them aside. This can cause angular growth and compression, or even infection in some cases. There are also varying degrees of impacted wisdom teeth, from a minor compression to a sideways growth and infection, which can be difficult to deal with. Some wisdom teeth will manage to erupt through the gum line and a crown will be visible, while others lie beneath the gum line and are classed as ‘fully impacted’. If these teeth are left as they are, it can cause a number of complications for you. This includes things like permanent damage to the adjacent teeth, eroding enamel, pushing teeth out of their root or developing an infection in some areas. It can also be a secondary cause of gum disease and tooth decay, as these areas prove difficult and painful to clean properly. Perhaps the most severe complication of impacted wisdom teeth is the development of dental cysts. These happen because the wisdom teeth grow in a special sack located inside the jaw, and if the tooth becomes infected this can fill with fluid, leading to uncomfortable and painful cysts that can cause permanent nerve damage. If left untreated, these complications can lead to more serious issues, so it’s important you get them checked out as soon as possible.
Impacted wisdom teeth are never pleasant, and almost every one of you reading will know someone who has had issues with them. Wisdom tooth removal is one of the most common dental procedures carried out in the UK, with cavity treatments coming in first place. The warning signs for impacted wisdom teeth start quite subtly, but they escalate quickly, and the best way to catch them is with routine dental check-ups. If you’re not sure what your symptoms mean, always book an appointment with your dentist and describe your symptoms. For more advice on wisdom teeth or to book your check-up consultation, just get in touch with the Appledore team today.
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