Impacted Wisdom Tooth and It's Symptoms
Adults have 32 teeth overall, among these 32 teeth, wisdom teeth are third molars that erupt at the back of the mouth and they are the last teeth to erupt. They erupt at the age of 17-25 years. They usually do not cause any problems except when they are trapped in the jaw.
1. What are Impacted wisdom teeth?
- Impacted wisdom teeth are wisdom teeth or third molars present at the back of the mouth that do not have enough space to erupt.
- Most people have four wisdom teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower jaw.
- Usually impacted teeth are more susceptible to decay and infection in the surrounding gums as they are difficult to clean.
- Infected impacted wisdom teeth can cause severe pain, in such cases, it is recommended to get them removed.
- Some dentists may suggest the removal of impacted wisdom teeth even if they don't cause any symptoms to prevent any future problems.
2. Impacted wisdom teeth: what are its symptoms?
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a wide range of problems, including:
- Jaw pain or gum pain
- Swollen and red gums
- Pressure in the jaw
- Discomfort while chewing and talking
- Infection in the jaw or gums
- Damage to the adjacent tooth
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Bad breath
3. What are the causes of impacted wisdom teeth?
- Usually, wisdom teeth or third molars become impacted because of a lack of space in the mouth.
- Eruption of third molars in different angles is also another cause for impacted wisdom teeth.
- Recent research shows that genetics play a role in the eruption of upper-third molars.
4. Impacted wisdom teeth: treatment
- If the wisdom teeth are healthy and have erupted completely in the correct position making it easier to clean them, then they are not removed.
- In the case of impacted wisdom teeth, they are often recommended to be removed as they may damage the adjacent teeth.
- Most dentists and oral surgeons suggest the removal of all wisdom teeth even if they do not cause any symptoms as a preventive measure.
5. Impacted wisdom teeth removal: what to expect?
- An oral surgeon will remove the impacted wisdom teeth through surgery if required.
- The dentist will suggest a full mouth x-ray to evaluate the position of the impacted wisdom tooth to be removed.
- A healthcare professional will evaluate the patient for the presence of any allergies and medical conditions.
- Impacted wisdom tooth removal may be done in the dentist’s clinic or as an outpatient in the hospital.
- The severity of the surgery depends on the position of the impacted wisdom tooth.
- Some dentists ask the patient to take antibiotics before and after surgery to reduce the risk of infection.
- Then the dentist or oral surgeon administers local anaesthesia to numb the offending tooth and surrounding gums.
- Then an incision is made to expose the tooth and bone.
- Finally, the impacted wisdom tooth is removed using specialised dental equipment.
- The patient is advised to rest and avoid alcohol or smoking for 24 hours after surgery.
6. Impacted wisdom teeth: what are its complications?
- If left untreated Impacted wisdom teeth can cause severe problems including,
- Impacted wisdom teeth can create pressure against the adjacent second molar and cause infection in it or the surrounding gums.
- Sometimes pressure from the impacted wisdom teeth can cause crowding and may require orthodontic treatment
- Cysts: Impacted wisdom teeth that are infected accumulate pus around them and form a cyst. In some cases, it may develop in a noncancerous tumour (benign). In such cases, it may require the removal of the tooth surrounding tissue and bone
- Impacted wisdom teeth are at high risk for decay as the partially covered gums form grounds for food accumulation which is difficult to clean
- The difficulty to clean the gums surrounding impacted wisdom teeth can lead to infection in the gums resulting in a condition called Pericoronitis.
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7. Impacted wisdom tooth removal: post-operative instruction
Here are some of the instructions that are to be followed after the removal of Impacted wisdom teeth.
- Bite on the gauze: After the wisdom tooth is removed the surgeon or dentist will place a gauze piece at the site of extraction. Bite on it for 30-40 minutes. If bleeding continues, replace the gauze with a fresh one and continue to bite on it.
- Apply ice: Ice has to be applied on the cheeks near the extraction site for the initial 24-48 hrs. This helps in the reduction of swelling and discomfort.
- Medications: Patients are required to take the prescribed medications properly to manage pain. Do not exceed the recommended dosage.
- Avoid drinking with a straw: Drinking fluids with a straw can create negative pressure in the mouth leading to the dislodgment of blood clots from the extraction site. This delays healing.
- Diet: Avoid hard and crunchy food, and stick to soft foods.
- Oral hygiene: Practice good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth. Avoid brushing at the extraction site for the first 24 hours. Rinsing your mouth with salted warm water helps reduce the incidence of infection
- Avoid smoking: Avoid smoking and drinking for at least an initial 24 to 48 hours and ideally for a week after extraction of Impacted wisdom teeth as they can delay the healing process.
- Follow-up: Visit your dentist for follow-up appointments and contact them in case of severe pain, swelling and bleeding.
Having regular dental checkups with your dentist for regular cleaning will enable you to monitor the growth and emergence of wisdom teeth. Dental x-rays updated regularly will help locate impacted wisdom teeth before the development of any symptoms.
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Frequently asked questions About Wisdom Teeth
1. How are Impacted wisdom teeth detected?
- Dentists can diagnose the presence of impacted wisdom teeth with the help of x-rays either digital x-rays or full-mouth OPGs
2. Is it necessary to get Impacted wisdom teeth removed?
- It is not always required to remove impacted wisdom teeth, but dentists usually recommend getting them removed to prevent any complications in the future.
3. After getting an Impacted wisdom tooth removed, how long will it take for recovery?
- The recovery period varies from person to person. It may take a few days to a week for the swelling and discomfort to come down. It is very important to follow the post-operative instructions given by your dentist to aid in proper healing