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What You Should Know About an Impacted Wisdom Tooth

Jan 25, 2023 | Extraction, Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars in the very back of your mouth. These teeth typically come in during the late teen years or early adulthood.

If a wisdom tooth gets stuck under your gum or doesn’t have enough room to break through the gum, it’s considered “impacted.” Impacted wisdom teeth are more prone to disease, tooth decay, and other dental problems.

Impacted Wisdom Tooth
What You Should Know About an Impacted Wisdom Tooth

What are the symptoms?

Some people with impacted wisdom teeth won’t notice any problems at all, while others will have obvious symptoms.

An impacted wisdom tooth might break through the gums, and part of the gums can be seen. This is called a partially impacted wisdom tooth.

A partially impacted wisdom tooth may cause food to become trapped and can make cleaning the tooth more difficult. For some people, a partially impacted tooth is very painful.

If the tooth becomes infected or causes other issues, you may have symptoms such as:

  • pain or swelling around the jaw
  • red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • bad breath
  • an unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • problems opening your mouth

In other cases, the affected tooth may never break through the gums. This is known as a fully impacted wisdom tooth

Complications of impacted wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are hard to clean, and food can get trapped in them. If a wisdom tooth isn’t removed, it can lead to certain problems, such as:

  • infection
  • cavities
  • decay
  • crowding of nearby teeth
  • difficulty flossing
  • damage to other teeth
  • cysts
  • gum disease

Risk factors of impacted wisdom teeth

You may be more likely to have an impacted wisdom tooth if you:

  • are between the ages of 17 and 25
  • have a small jaw structure

There’s no way to prevent an impacted tooth, but good dental hygiene may help you avoid potential problems. 

How is an impacted wisdom tooth diagnosed?

Your dentist can tell if your wisdom teeth are impacted by examining your teeth and taking a simple X-ray of your mouth.

An X-ray can show whether your teeth are impacted and if other teeth or bones are damaged.

If your teeth are impacted, you and your dentist will discuss the benefits and risks of surgery.

What is horizontal impaction, and why you need to remove it?

Horizontal impaction is the most painful type. The molar lies horizontally inside the gum and completely away from the surface, pushing the second molar near to it.

This type of impaction is seen only on x-ray image and removal requires the skill and expertise of a skilled dentist. Since the horizontally impacted wisdom tooth lies parallel to the jawbone, it can damage the surrounding teeth. If not extracted, it can damage the adjacent teeth, and make them vulnerable to gum disease and dental decay.

This is why you need to pull out your horizontally impacted wisdom teeth as early as possible to save other healthy teeth.

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