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What Is An Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

What Is An Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

Third molars are commonly referred to as wisdom teeth. They are usually the last teeth to develop and are located in the back of your mouth, behind your second molars. Their development is usually completed between the middle teenage years and early twenties, a time traditionally associated with the onset of maturity and the attainment of wisdom.

Although most people develop and grow 32 permanent adult teeth, many times their jaws are too small to accommodate the four wisdom teeth. When inadequate space prevents the teeth from erupting they are called impacted. This indicates their inability to erupt into the proper position for chewing and cleaning.

Types Of Impactions

We will need to see you for a consultation to determine if you will benefit from wisdom tooth removal. A special x-ray of your mouth and jaws will be taken to determine if your wisdom teeth are impacted, if there is room for them to erupt, and how difficult involved it will be to have them removed.

 

       

  • SOFT TISSUE IMPACTION: There is not enough room to allow the gum tissue to retract for adequate cleaning of the tooth.
  • PARTIAL BONY IMPACTION: The tooth is only partially erupted/exposed due to either lack of space of the (angled) position of the tooth.
  • COMPLETE BONY IMPACTION: There is NO space for the tooth to erupt. It remains embedded in the jawbone or if even partially visible requires complex surgical techniques for removal. The impacted wisdom tooth may also be in an unusual position and difficult to remove. This situation can also arise when the shape or size of the jawbone and other facial structures make removal of this tooth significantly more complex.

Why Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

If you do not have enough room in your mouth for your third molars to fully erupt, a number of problems can happen. Impacted wisdom teeth should be removed before their root structure is fully developed. In some patients it is as early as 12 or 13, and in others it may not be until the early twenties. Problems tend to occur with increasing frequency after the age of 30. Some of the possible problems related to not removing your wisdom teeth include:

  • INFECTION: The most frequent clinical problem we see is pericoronitis, (a localized gum infection). Without enough room for total eruption, the gum tissue around the wisdom tooth can become irritated and infected, resulting in recurrent pain, swelling, and problems with chewing and/or swallowing.
  • CYST FORMATION: Non-infectious diseases may also arise in association with an impacted wisdom tooth. Cysts are fluid-filled “balloons” inside the jawbone that develop as a result of impacted teeth and slowly expand destroying adjacent jawbone and occasionally teeth. They can be very difficult to treat if your wisdom teeth are not removed in your teenage years. Although rare, tumors can be associated with the delayed removal of wisdom teeth.
  • POSSIBLE CROWDING: Impacted wisdom teeth may contribute to crowding of your teeth. This is most noticeable with the front teeth, primarily the lower front teeth and is most commonly seen after a patient has had braces. There are a number of factors that cause teeth to crowd after braces or in early adulthood. Retained, impacted wisdom teeth may be a contributing factor. Unless you have an active problem when you see the oral surgeon, the reason for removal is primarily to prevent long-term damage to your teeth, gums and jawbone.
  • DAMAGE TO ADJACENT TEETH: If there is inadequate room to clean around the wisdom tooth, the tooth directly in front, the second molar, can be adversely affected resulting in gum disease, bone loss around the tooth, and/or decay.
  • WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE MY WISDOM TEETH REMOVED AS A TEENAGER / YOUNG ADULT: As wisdom teeth develop, the roots become longer and the jawbone more dense. When it is necessary to remove impacted wisdom teeth in your thirties, forties or beyond, the post-operative course can be prolonged and there is a higher complication rate. Treating these complications is often more difficult and less predictable than with a younger patient. Healing may be slower and the chance of infection can be increased. If your impacted wisdom teeth are not removed in your teenage years or early in your twenties and they are completely impacted in bone, it may be advisable to wait until a localized problem (such as cyst formation or localized gum disease and bone loss) develops. In general, you will heal faster, more predictably and have fewer complications if treated in your teens or early twenties.

Written by : Anthony

Smile Solutions

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