What is a wisdom tooth?
A wisdom tooth (or wisdom teeth) is otherwise known as your third molar and is located at the very back of your mouth. They are the last of your adult teeth to appear and usually erupt in your late teens or early twenties.
What is an impacted and partially impacted wisdom tooth?
An impacted wisdom tooth is one that forms in the mouth but never breaks through the gums. A partially impacted wisdom tooth is one that forms in the mouth but only emerges partway through the gums.
Due to the lack of space in your mouth, and it’s late eruption, the wisdom tooth will often grow at an angle and become a source of many problems. These include:
Pericoronitis (local gum infection) is the most common problem associated with impacted wisdom teeth. The tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth can become infected and irritated, which results in swelling, pain, and difficulty chewing.
Cysts may form around the jaw bone as a consequence of impacted wisdom teeth. A cyst is extremely undesirable as it can expand and destroy the adjacent bone structure as well as the teeth. They can be painful and lead to more severe dental issues if not treated early.
Most adults have very little space remaining in their mouths to accommodate the late eruption of wisdom teeth. As the wisdom teeth push through the gums, it exerts pressure on adjacent teeth to try and make space. This overcrowding can cause previously straight teeth to become more angled and deteriorate the aesthetics of your smile. Removal of your wisdom teeth with help prevent long term damage to your jaw bone, gums, and teeth.
How to tell if you need your wisdom teeth removed
When you feel pain coming from your wisdom tooth, it is probably time to have them extracted. Only a professional and respected dentist will be able to tell you for sure if your wisdom tooth should be removed, so it is important to call if you feel discomfort.
If you see any of the following symptoms, then please make an appointment with your dentist:
• Swelling of the Jaw
• Swollen or red gums
• Bleeding or tender gums
• Jaw pain
• Difficulty opening and closing your mouth.
Do I have to remove an impacted wisdom tooth?
Your dentist will be able to tell you whether you are required to have your wisdom tooth extracted. However, wisdom tooth removal is a very common procedure; in fact, hundreds of thousands of wisdom teeth are removed each year in Australia. If the tooth has erupted fully, and you are experiencing no problems, then it will likely be best to leave it as it is. If, however, you are having difficulties cleaning it, then there is a high chance that it will need to be extracted to prevent future complications.
Can I prevent my wisdom teeth from becoming impacted?
Unfortunately, it is not possible to prevent impaction, but you can prevent the associated oral health problems by maintaining regular check-ups with your dentist and practicing good oral hygiene at home.
Many people are concerned at the thought of having their wisdom teeth extracted. The truth is that if the tooth has already erupted through the gums, then its removal will be like that of any other tooth extraction. Only if the extraction is more complicated will there be a need for a more invasive approach, but with the use of anaesthetic, this will be painless.
Platinum Dental cares about your oral health goals. To achieve the best outcome, we will advise you to follow your post-operative instructions as this will promote healing and enable you to be fully back to normal in a few days.
If you would like to speak to one of our dentists about any concerns with your wisdom teeth, then please call Platinum Dental today on 02 4981 1755.