Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to develop and emerge in the mouth. They typically appear between the ages of 17 and 25. Impacted wisdom teeth occur when the teeth cannot properly emerge from the gums due to a lack of space or other issues. This can cause pain, discomfort, and other symptoms.
Causes of impacted wisdom teeth
- Genetics: Some people are more likely to develop impacted wisdom teeth due to their family history. If your parents or other close relatives have had problems with their wisdom teeth, you may be at a higher risk for impacted wisdom teeth.
- Misalignment of teeth: If the other teeth in the mouth are not properly aligned, this can prevent wisdom teeth from emerging properly. This can be due to genetics or previous orthodontic treatment.
- Lack of space in the mouth: If there is not enough room for the wisdom teeth to emerge, they may become impacted. This can be due to a small jaw size, other teeth that take up space in the mouth, or a combination of both. In some cases, the wisdom teeth may try to emerge at an angle, which can cause them to become impacted.
Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth
- Pain and discomfort: One of the most common symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth is pain and discomfort in the back of the mouth. This can range from mild to severe and can be constant or intermittent.
- Swelling of the gums: If wisdom teeth are impacted, the gums surrounding the teeth may become swollen. This can make the area around the impacted teeth feel tender and painful.
- Difficulty opening the mouth: Impacted wisdom teeth can cause the jaws to become inflamed, making it difficult to open the mouth fully. This can make eating and speaking difficult and cause discomfort when yawning.
- Infection: In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to infection. This can cause the gums to become red and swollen and can cause a bad taste in the mouth.
Treatment options for impacted wisdom teeth
- Surgical removal is the most common treatment for impacted wisdom teeth. This procedure is typically performed by an oral surgeon and involves making an incision in the gums to access the impacted teeth. The teeth are then removed, and the incision is closed with sutures.
- Orthodontic treatment: This option is great for some cases as it helps to create more space in the mouth for wisdom teeth to emerge. This can involve using braces or other appliances to move the other teeth and make room for the wisdom teeth.
- Antibiotics: If an infection is present, antibiotics may be prescribed to help manage and prevent it from spreading.
It is important to consult with a dentist or oral surgeon to determine the best treatment option for your specific situation. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth may not cause symptoms and may not require treatment.
Prevention of impacted wisdom teeth
Regular dental check-ups and X-rays: One of the best ways to prevent impacted wisdom teeth is to visit the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. During these visits, the dentist will examine the mouth and take X-rays to check the position of the wisdom teeth. If it appears that the wisdom teeth may become impacted, the dentist can recommend treatment or monitoring to prevent problems from occurring.
Maintaining good oral hygiene: Good oral hygiene is important for preventing dental problems, including impacted wisdom teeth. This means brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using mouthwash to keep the mouth clean and healthy.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, discomfort, and other symptoms.
Treatment options include surgical removal, orthodontic treatment, and antibiotics.
Prevention involves regular dental check-ups, X-rays, and good oral hygiene. It is important to consult with a dentist to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.