How do I know if I have an impacted wisdom tooth?

IF there’s ever an oral health problem you might want to avoid, it would be an impacted wisdom tooth.

Unfortunately, you can’t control the size of your mouth or how your wisdom teeth grow. Since impacted wisdom teeth are most often caused by wisdom teeth growing improperly, there is little you can do to prevent this condition. Fortunately, there are treatment options to consider.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

While sometimes the teeth grow into a jaw that is large enough to accommodate them, most people do not have ample room for their wisdom teeth, causing impacted wisdom teeth. That’s because most of us have room for approximately 28 teeth, which is how many you have before your wisdom teeth come in.

Wisdom teeth, otherwise known as your third molars, are the last teeth to grow in, and often arrive between the age of 17 and 25. They serve no purpose, as our diet today consists of softer foods and we have the ability to cut food into small pieces we can easily chew. Often, the wisdom teeth either fail to come through in proper alignment or they fail to emerge all the way through the gumline. This causes the impacted wisdom teeth that are trapped between the gum tissue and jawbone.

Impacted wisdom teeth symptoms

Since you don’t really need wisdom teeth, you may not care if you keep them or not. However, in most cases, impacted wisdom teeth don’t go unnoticed.

1. Swelling and infection

There is often significant swelling, pain and infection that come with impacted wisdom teeth, and the situation should not go untreated. Additionally, since impacted wisdom teeth can damage nearby gums, teeth, and bone, many dentists will recommend having them surgically removed.

Impacted wisdom teeth are more difficult to remove, leave you at greater risk for complications from surgery, and can permanently damage bones and other teeth. Also, the longer wisdom teeth pain persists, the more likely it is that an infection will result from bacteria entering open tissue. Oral infections can have a negative impact on general systemic health.

2. Impacted wisdom teeth pain

Wisdom teeth pain can be a sign of impacted wisdom teeth, which occurs when wisdom teeth are prevented from emerging by the jawbone or other teeth. Clues that your wisdom teeth could be impacted include jaw pain and tenderness, redness and swelling of the gums around the tooth, bad breath, or a bad taste when you bite down on food.

Impacted wisdom teeth can also put you at risk for cysts, which are pockets of fluid that form around the tooth. Rarely, tumours can form around the tooth. Cysts and tumours can result in permanent damage to your jawbone as well as your other teeth. Wisdom teeth pain is not always a sign that your wisdom teeth are impacted, but the longer you wait to see a dental professional, the more likely it is that your wisdom teeth can become impacted.

Impacted wisdom teeth removal

While surgery may sound scary, it’s very common and often less painful than the discomfort associated with impacted wisdom teeth. In fact, approximately 85 per cent of wisdom teeth will eventually need to be removed.

Impacted wisdom teeth can be removed at an oral surgeon’s office. The surgeon will numb your mouth to avoid discomfort during the procedure, and will then make a simple incision to remove one or all of your impacted wisdom teeth. Once the impacted wisdom teeth are extracted, stitches will be used to close the incision and allow the gums to heal.

You may experience bleeding for a few days following the procedure. It’s very important to follow your dental professional’s instructions for post-surgical care after having your impacted wisdom teeth removed. Once your mouth is completely healed and your dental professional has conducted your post-surgical appointment, you should return to your normal oral hygiene routine to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. It’s best to maintain a diligent oral hygiene routine using a variety of products designed to improve your oral health.


Dr Sharon Robinson, DDS has offices at Dental Place Cosmetix Spa, located at shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica, School of Oral Health Sciences. She may be contacted at 876-630-4710. Like their Facebook page, Dental Place Cosmetix Spa.

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