1. What are Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that emerge during your late teens and twenties. However, as with most vestigial parts, wisdom teeth are no longer necessary for survival. Unfortunately, as humans now have smaller jaws, your wisdom teeth can grow abnormally causing several oral health problems if they are not removed.
2. What are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
When wisdom teeth do not fully erupt through the gums and begin to grow abnormally, this is called an impacted wisdom tooth.
Impacted wisdom teeth can have an adverse effect on your overall oral health as they can grow at an angle and interfere with the alignment of your other teeth. They can also become infected as impacted wisdom teeth trap food particles and bacteria easily. Even if they have erupted, they are difficult to reach with your toothbrush and floss.
3. What are the Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
If your impacted wisdom tooth becomes infected, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Swollen or tender gums at the back of your mouth.
- Gums that is red and bleeding.
- Pain in your jaw.
- Swelling in your jaw.
- Bad breath.
- A persistent unpleasant taste in your mouth.
- Problems opening your mouth fully.
4. What Causes Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth become impacted because they have insufficient space to erupt correctly.
There are various levels and types of impaction which affect the rest of your teeth and gums in different ways.
- Partial impaction is where the crown of the wisdom tooth erupts through the gum.
- Full impaction is when the tooth never erupts through the gum.
- Horizontal impaction refers to a wisdom tooth that is fully impacted with the crown growing horizontally toward the adjacent molar.
- Mesial impaction refers to an impacted tooth that is angled against the adjacent molar.
- Vertical impaction refers to an impacted tooth that does not erupt through the gum line but grows vertically rubbing against the adjacent tooth.
- Distal impaction refers to an impacted tooth where the crown is angled away from the adjacent molar and the root in angled towards it.
When diagnosing an impacted wisdom tooth, your emergency dentist in Notting Hill will take x-rays of your mouth to observe how the impacted wisdom tooth is affecting your other teeth.
5. What Complications Can It Cause?
An impacted wisdom tooth is not only painful; it can also cause a number of other health complications.
- Can Damage Other Teeth
If the impacted wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar this can cause an infection or push your other teeth out of alignment which could require orthodontic correction.
- Can Form Cysts
An infected wisdom tooth can develop a fluid filled sac on the jawbone called a cyst which can damage tissues, nerves and bone.
- Can Give Rise to Decay
An impacted wisdom tooth is challenging to clean, and food and bacteria can become trapped between the tooth and the gum this can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay, especially if there is a flap of gum tissue where the tooth has tried to break through the gum line.
- Can Become Vulnerable to Gum Disease
Due to the difficulty of cleaning partially erupted wisdom teeth, patients can develop a gum condition called periodontitis in which the gum tissue becomes inflamed and overlapped the impacted tooth.
6. What Treatment is Available for Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
The most effective way to treat an impacted wisdom tooth is with a wisdom tooth extraction. Depending on the severity and nature of the impaction, an extraction can either be performed in a dentist’s chair under local anaesthetic or a hospital under general anaesthesia by an oral surgeon.
Dentists typically do not remove healthy wisdom teeth unless there is the potential for future health issues.
If you are experiencing pain while waiting to have your impacted wisdom tooth removed, there are a number of remedies to try including an ice pack to reduce the swelling, rinsing with warm salt water to remove bacteria and food particles from the area, or cotton wool ball soaked in clove oil and held against the tooth.
If you are experiencing pain in your wisdom tooth, consult your local dentist for an assessment.
Westbourne Grove Dental is a forward thinking dental clinic in Notting Hill, London. The Principal Dentist, Dr. Sonia Ali’s main focus is restoring smiles and facial rejuvenation through a blend of facial aesthetics and cosmetic dental treatments.