When wisdom teeth do not have enough room to erupt or develop, they can grow downward and become impacted. Typically, wisdom teeth erupt sometime around the late teenage years or early twenties. Impacted wisdom teeth issues are not always visible. They can grow at an angle toward surrounding teeth, towards the back of the mouth, or at an angle that has them trapped within the jawbone. An impacted tooth may emerge partially or not at all—meaning they may be partially or fully impacted.
Causes and Symptoms
The cause for impacted wisdom teeth is typically not enough room for growth or eruption. If the mouth is too crowded, there are much more likely to be problems.
In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth will not show symptoms. But even if they don’t show signs right away, they are much more susceptible to infections and other dental issues.
Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth are more like symptoms of problems caused by impacted wisdom teeth. You may experience swelling, bleeding, or tender gums. This can happen due to impacted wisdom teeth causing tooth decay, which can lead to gum disease. It can also occur if impacted teeth are growing at an angle that is impacting the gums. Other symptoms include jaw pain or trouble opening the mouth. This may be due to the impacted teeth growing into the jaw or at an angle that is causing the jaw harm. Impacted teeth can also affect nerves and cause nerve damage, leading to a loss of feeling in part of the mouth or jaw. The tooth decay that often comes along with impacted teeth may lead to bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
Dangers of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth should be removed as soon as possible. They may not currently be causing problems, but they likely will over time. They can cause teeth crowding and other issues that will lead to a need for orthodontic care.
Impacted teeth can also lead to cysts in the jawbone. Cysts can damage teeth, nerves, and jawbone. In rare cases, a tumor may develop, which leads to complications of its own.
As mentioned, impacted teeth often lead to tooth decay. Partially impacted teeth are at a higher risk of tooth decay because of how difficult they are to clean. Infection can easily occur and lead to cavities and gum disease.
The only prevention for impacted wisdom teeth is to have them removed before they are impacted. Be sure to have your dentist check on your wisdom teeth at your regular six-month appointment to ensure they are not impacted.