Wisdom teeth also referred to as the third molars, emerge in the late teens to early twenties. Like all teeth breaking through the gums, they are often uncomfortable and sometimes quite painful. Not everyone experiences the eruption of wisdom teeth. For some, they simply aren’t a part of their dentition. For others, they simply haven’t emerged and are sitting below the gingival. These are what are known as impacted wisdom teeth.
What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
An impacted tooth is a tooth that fails to emerge or partially emerges from the gumline. The wisdom teeth are the most common to become impacted due to their position in the jaw and their rank of eruption in relation to the other teeth in the dentition.
The usual treatment for impacted wisdom teeth that are causing problems is surgical removal.
Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
A dental x-ray is the most effective method of determining if you have wisdom teeth that are impacted, especially if they are 100% below the gingiva and are not visible.
Impacted teeth often have similar symptoms that may include bad breath, inflammation of the gingiva, tenderness and bleeding of the gums, pain in the jaw, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes.
Dental pain is not normal. You should always seek the advice of your dentist when you experience anything out of the ordinary.
Do You Need Treatment?
Often impacted wisdom teeth are asymptomatic, which means that they cause no apparent problems or pain. Many professionals believe that it is wise to remove impacted wisdom teeth because they are potentially pushing on the other teeth, which may cause misalignment of the bite or damage to healthy teeth. They can also trap food and plaque causing inflammation and tender gums, a condition called pericoronitis.
“Impacted tooth: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001057.htm.
Bergman, Jerry . “Are wisdom teeth (third molars) vestiges of human evolution.” CEN Technical Journal 12.3 (1998): 297-304. Print.
“Wisdom Teeth | AAOMS.org.” American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS). N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Apr. 2011. http://www.aaoms.org/wisdom