Part of a person’s dental development is the emergence of their third molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth. A pair in the top and bottom back parts of their mouth develops between ages 17 and 21 to join the 32 teeth that a person has. These grow wider than the average molar size to comprise the toughest grinding teeth in a person’s mouth.
But, unknown to many, some people don’t grow any of these third molars at all. Many individuals purport that this can be a result of anatomical evolution. Ancient men, living without sophisticated dental technology and eating tough food, relied on these extra teeth to disintegrate the food they eat.
Even if wisdom teeth have become practically useless and may be left as they are, issues rooting from their growth affect as many as nine out of ten individuals. The main reason for this is that there isn’t enough room for the tooth to grow or they grow at the wrong angle or direction. This is what is called impacted. Some may not realize they’ve got an impacted tooth beneath their gums, but many will experience pain at least.
Here are other symptoms that may indicate that your wisdom teeth are impacted.
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The hallmark symptom of having an impacted tooth is pain, specifically in the area where it grows. You may notice that the gums at the back of your mouth are unusually rubbing against each other. That later progresses to an excruciating pain that may spread to the roots of neighboring teeth. At times, the pain can spread as far as the jaw.
Treating the discomfort with painkillers or gargling a warm salt and water solution can provide temporary relief. However, persistent pain should be taken as a sign of an infection. In the case of wisdom teeth, this should be handled with a more in-depth diagnosis and treatment.
Like any other infected body part, gums are susceptible to swelling and turning red when there’s an impacted tooth. On average, the mouth is home to hundreds of types of bacteria. As a tooth attempts to emerge from underneath the gums, torn gums are easy traps for food debris, leading bacteria to swarm to it and develop plaque before the teeth are out. This leads to the gum infection called pericoronitis, which presents itself as foul odors in your mouth or tooth loss, at worst.
If untreated, the inflammation can also spread to the rest of the mouth and throat or, worse, cause fevers. It can alter how you chew as the swollen gums obstruct the rest of the teeth from making contact. In rare cases, it can lead to a cyst growing near the tooth, which can lead to the deterioration of the jaw bone.
When a wisdom tooth is too big, it can cause damage to neighboring teeth and force the other teeth to shift. Consequently, they can become crooked. If not addressed immediately, they can no longer be put back to their original state.
Elevating impacted wisdom teeth for medical care
As soon as you experience any of the mentioned symptoms, consult a dentist. If your tooth has partially emerged from the gums, they may recommend you to undergo a simple extraction. This involves local anesthetics to numb your gums as your wisdom teeth are elevated with forceps. After which, you will not be allowed to brush your teeth for a whole day. Instead, you will be advised to gargle a salt and water solution, extending up to a week since the extraction.
A surgical extraction will be required, on the other hand, if your tooth remains buried under your gums. To minimize the incision on your gums, the dental surgeon can cut your tooth to pieces before extracting it to the root. Accordingly, you will be prescribed painkillers to alleviate post-surgery pain.
A question that’s asked often is whether to remove wisdom teeth before getting braces. To put it simply, they don’t need to be removed unless it’s causing you health issues. As such, you can opt to put off getting braces until you think you are ready.
Nevertheless, wisdom teeth removal has been done many times for people wearing braces. To further allay your fears that your wisdom teeth can misalign the teeth you worked hard to align, you can ask an orthodontist to make a custom retainer to wear for a couple of years.
Wisdom teeth may grow and not bother you. But as a safety measure, be diligent in your visits to the dentist to check if anything needs to be done. As a rule of thumb, impacted wisdom teeth removal is easier when done earlier. If not, you can suffer from irreversible effects such as permanently crooked teeth and, worse, jaw tumors.