Impacted Wisdom Teeth – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Methods

An impacted tooth is a tooth that fails to fully emerge through the gums. The precise reasons why an individual’s wisdom teeth need to be extracted should be explained to them by their dentist, after an examination which almost certainly will need to include x-rays. Impacted wisdom teeth are very common. They are often painless and cause no apparent trouble. Most people have four wisdom teeth, one in each corner of the mouth- two on top, two on bottom. Wisdom teeth are also known as third molars are the last teeth to erupt. Wisdom teeth are the last of your teeth to come in, or erupt through the gums. Wisdom teeth are an example of a vestigial structure. They are generally thought to be called wisdom teeth because they appear so late- much later than the other teeth, at an age where people are supposedly wiser than as a child, when the other teeth erupt. An impacted tooth remains embedded in soft gingiva (gum) tissue or bone beyond its normal eruption time. The cause may be overcrowding, often because the jaw is too small to fit the third set of molars. Wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to develop. They appear in the mouth between the ages of 18-24 years and may develop in the jaw but never erupt or appear in the mouth.

Mesioangular impaction is the most common form, and means the tooth is angled forward, towards the front of the mouth. Wisdom teeth do not always cause problems but typical problems associated with partially erupted wisdom teeth are frequent swelling and tenderness, constant pain, limited mouth opening and bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth. A condition that often occurs when wisdom teeth are impacted is pericoronitis. The term pericoronitis specifically refers to an infection located in the tissues that surround a tooth that has not fully emerged through the gums and into its proper position. When a wisdom tooth is partially erupted, food and bacteria collect under the gum causing a local infection. This may result in bad breath, pain, swelling and trismus (inability to open the mouth fully). Impacted wisdom teeth fall into one of several categories. Vertical impaction occurs when the formed tooth does not erupt fully through the gumline. It is generally suggested that teeth that remain completely buried or un-erupted in a normal position are unlikely to cause any harm to the patient.

Causes of Impacted wisdom teeth

The common causes and risk factor’s of Impacted wisdom teeth include the following:

Wisdom teeth develop like your other teeth. But they take the longest to develop and are the last teeth to emerge.

The cause may be overcrowding, often because the jaw is too small to fit the third set of molars. Teeth may also become twisted, tilted, or displaced as they try to emerge, resulting in impacted teeth.

Having a small jawbone may make you more prone to having impacted wisdom teeth.

Cysts and other benign (harmless) jaw tumors. These can lead to bone destruction.

Symptoms of Impacted wisdom teeth

Some sign and symptoms related to Impacted wisdom teeth are as follows:

Bad breath.

Pain or tenderness of the gums (gingiva) or jaw bone.

Swelling around your jaw.

Unpleasant taste when biting down on or near the area.

Swollen lymph nodes of the neck (occasionally).

Infection in the mouth.

Pain when swallowing.

Tumor development.

Visible gap where a tooth did not emerge.

Difficulty opening the mouth (occasionally).

Treatment of Impacted wisdom teeth

Here is list of the methods for treating Impacted wisdom teeth:

Over-the-counter pain relievers may help. Warm salt water (one-half teaspoon of salt in one cup of water) or over-the-counter mouthwashes may be soothing to the gums.

People who can’t have their teeth removed because of certain health problems may also need to choose conservative treatment.

Jawbone reconstruction surgery.

Extraction of mal-positioned wisdom tooth prior to orthodontic treatment.

If the tooth is deeply impacted or difficulty with extraction is expected, the dentist may refer the person to an oral surgeon for tooth removal.

Antibiotics may be required prior to tooth extraction if the area around the tooth is infected.