Nicknamed for the fact that they come into your mouth and your life by the time you are mature and supposedly “wise”, wisdom teeth are simply the last set of molars that grow furthest back in your mouth. If you’re experiencing some specific pain in your gums and jaw, you may be wondering if you have impacted wisdom teeth. Dr. Ochsner takes care of wisdom teeth from all around Onalaska! Let us tell you more about impacted wisdom teeth and what to do if you have them.
What are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars you’ll get. They usually come in when you are between 17 and 21 years old. Sometimes they appear later in life, while some people’s wisdom teeth never grow in at all. (Does that mean those people never become wise? Hard to say.) As with other teeth, wisdom teeth are expected to break through the gums and become totally visible when they emerge. However, in some situations, they remain deep in the jawbone or never break through the gums. These are examples of impacted wisdom teeth.
Have you ever tried to shove one last book into an already-full bookshelf? When your last set of teeth comes into a mouth that is already crowded, it’s a similar situation. There simply may not be enough room for the wisdom teeth to erupt completely. A wisdom tooth may remain impacted if it grows in twisted or sideways, or only part of the tooth comes in.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems such as:
- Pressure on teeth so your bite becomes misaligned
- Pain and dysfunction in your mouth and jaw
- Inflammation and extra plaque buildup on a partially impacted tooth (when some, but not all of the tooth erupts through the gum)
Some dentists prefer to remove wisdom teeth early to avoid any problems altogether. Early removal also usually means easier recovery.
Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Sometimes, wisdom teeth stay in the jaw without a hitch. However, if you experience any of these problems, you may have impacted wisdom teeth that require treatment:
- Irritated, red, swollen gums in the far back of the mouth
- Discomfort opening your mouth
- Jaw pain keeping you up at night
- Bad breath
- Bad taste when biting down
How to Treat Impacted Wisdom Teeth
A dentist will confirm whether you have impacted wisdom teeth first by looking into your mouth and then taking x-rays. The teeth may not need to be removed or extracted, in which case you can take pain medicine and use some warm saltwater rinse to soothe your gums. If an impacted tooth is causing problems for the rest of your mouth or jaw, it’s likely the dentist will want to surgically remove it—this is called extraction. Wisdom tooth extraction can leave your mouth sore for a few days, so you’ll need to take time off work or school and eat only safe, soft foods.
If you think you have impacted wisdom teeth, or if you have any other questions, Neighborhood Smiles would love to see you soon! Put all that wisdom to good use and call us today to be proactive about your oral health. Now that’s a wise decision!