Impacted wisdom teeth: what you should knowJanuary 21, 2021 5:45 pm
There is little that is worse or more disruptive than a bad toothache, and if you are suffering, it may be down to an impacted wisdom tooth. Read on for more about this condition.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
Wisdom teeth are the extra set of molars at the back of the mouth, which is the last to emerge through the gums in your teens or twenties. Not everyone has them, and while many will have no issues at all, for some people they can become a problem.
This is because wisdom teeth can become impacted – if there is not enough room in the mouth for all the teeth, then they are trapped, and do not have enough room to develop properly. In olden times, people would generally lose teeth during their lifetimes, leaving enough space in the jaw for all teeth. However, thanks to modern medicine, we luckily have much better chances of keeping our teeth for longer.
Why is it a problem?
The lack of space in the mouth means that wisdom teeth can grow at the wrong angle, either towards other teeth or even parallel with the jaw. Some people may have wisdom teeth growing inside the jaw, and they never emerge at all. Or, the wisdom teeth may only partially emerge through the gum line.
While an impacted wisdom tooth isn’t necessarily a problem in itself, it can lead to other complications. It can cause damage to other adjacent teeth. Partially-emerged wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean, with the subsequent build-up of plaque and bacteria meaning higher chances of infection, tooth decay, gum disease, or another form of infection called
pericoronitis, which affects the soft tissues around the tooth.
Infection can also lead to an abscess around or inside your tooth. In rare cases, if the wisdom teeth are growing within the jawline, the sac containing the tooth can fill with fluid, forming a cyst.
When should an impacted wisdom tooth be removed?
While there is some debate about best practice, the chances are that the dentist will not perform wisdom tooth removal unless they really need to. In fact, if you keep up with your regular six-monthly dental check-ups, the dentist will likely have taken an X-ray and already talked to you about managing wisdom teeth. Often you can help yourself by maintaining
good dental hygiene at home, making sure you clean around all the teeth at the back as well as the front.
However, if complications have set in, then you will probably have some clear symptoms. This can include swelling, bleeding gums, or pain and discomfort. If you have a problem with your impacted wisdom tooth, you will know about it! The good news is that the extraction of wisdom teeth is a very common procedure. If the dentist decides you should have a wisdom tooth removed, it will be done by a specialist oral surgeon with a local anesthetic. It can usually be done in one appointment, between 30 minutes to one hour.
After Wisdom teeth extraction
While you shouldn’t feel any pain during wisdom teeth removal, you may need painkillers when the local anesthetic wears off afterward. Your dentist will recommend the right analgesics for you. Make sure you take any prescribed antibiotics, as these are preventative measures to avoid infection. You can expect some swelling and discomfort for several days, though sometimes it can go on a bit longer. It’s a good idea to stick to eating
soft foods for up to a week afterward, and you might not be able to open your mouth fully during that time.
If you have any concerns or if the pain is not going away, you should contact your dentist for an emergency appointment. Drs. Nicolas & Asp have a team of oral surgeons, and a 24 hour dental clinic available.
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