Wisdom teeth typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25. Unfortunately, as the last teeth in the dental arch, there is often inadequate room for them to emerge correctly. This causes your wisdom teeth to emerge crooked or fail to erupt, leading to impaction.
Impaction can cause numerous oral health issues, including crooked teeth, misalignment, tooth decay, gum disease, and a dental abscess. About 72% of adults will experience at least one impacted wisdom tooth.
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups to monitor how it is affecting your oral health.
Types of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Several types of impaction can influence the kind of symptoms you may experience.
- Mesial impaction: This is the most common type of impaction and occurs when the wisdom tooth crown angles toward the front of the mouth.
- Distal impaction: This is the least common type of impaction and occurs when the wisdom tooth angles itself toward the back of the mouth.
- Vertical impaction: This occurs when the tooth is trapped beneath the gums despite being in the correct position.
- Horizontal impaction: This type of impaction occurs when the wisdom tooth is trapped beneath the gums completely horizontally and puts pressure on the adjacent teeth.
Each of these impaction types can occur in the hard or soft tissue. A soft tissue impaction means the wisdom tooth has erupted from the jawbone but failed to emerge through the gum tissue. A hard tissue impaction means the wisdom tooth is still completely covered by gum tissue and jawbone.
5 Signs of an Impacted Wisdom Tooth
While some people may have no issues with their wisdom teeth, many others experience uncomfortable and, sometimes, dangerous symptoms that adversely affect their oral health, such as:
1. Irritated gums
Red, swollen, tender, or irritated gums near the wisdom tooth are a sign of impaction. Gum tissue surrounding the wisdom tooth is prone to infection, leading to gum disease.
2. Jaw pain
This symptom is particularly prevalent in the case of hard tissue impaction. The pressure of the wisdom teeth in the adjacent teeth can cause intense discomfort. Wisdom teeth have a high rate of decay and can cause cavities in neighboring teeth. These cavities can cause pulp infections, damaging blood vessels and nerves, leading to pain that radiates to the jaw.
Additionally, if a cyst forms at the base of the impacted tooth, it can deteriorate the jaw bone tissue. Pain and inflammation can make it difficult to open and close your jaw properly.
Swelling can occur in the jaw in the case of a hard tissue impaction, while swelling in the gums can indicate a soft tissue impaction. An impacted tooth can also develop a severe infection due to deep decay; this creates a pocket of pus at the tooth’s root or gum, called an abscess.
Swollen cheeks, jaw, or neck indicate severe inflammation due to the infection and require immediate treatment; an abscessed wisdom tooth can spread the infection to other body parts and potentially become life-threatening.
Bad breath is a sign of a potentially infected impaction. This can also present itself as a foul taste in the mouth. Bacteria that cause infections like pericoronitis feed off the sugars found in food debris that becomes lodged in the area around your wisdom teeth. As they metabolize the food, they produce sulfur which gives your breath a rotten egg smell.
5. Damaged teeth
Other teeth can be damaged by the pressure from the impacted wisdom teeth. Impaction can cause crowding in your adjacent teeth, making it challenging to clean between them. This increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Treating an Impacted Wisdom Tooth
It is important to get impacted wisdom teeth treated quickly to avoid complications. If the wisdom tooth is partially erupted, cutting the nearby soft tissue, horizontally impacted, or broken, you may need to have the tooth removed.
If the impacted wisdom tooth is not causing any other issues, it may just need monitoring from a dentist to ensure no complications develop.
Impacted Wisdom Tooth Treatment at Blue Island Smiles
Are you concerned that your wisdom tooth may be impacted? Call Blue Island Smiles at (708) 371-3844 to schedule a dental exam.