There’s no part of the human body quite as problematic as wisdom teeth. Although humans were meant to have this third set of molars to replace worn-down teeth due to tough fibrous diets thousands of years ago, they rarely erupt without complications today. Each year, dentists extract about 10 million wisdom teeth.
Wisdom teeth can cause pain, increase the risk of tooth decay, and damage nearby teeth. Sometimes, wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to erupt through your gums normally. This condition is called impacted wisdom teeth, and it can be especially problematic.
In this blog, Kevin Miller, DDS, describes the signs of impacted wisdom teeth. If you notice any of these signs, he encourages you to visit Dentistry in Paradise in Santa Barbara, California, to explore your treatment options.
The problem with impacted wisdom teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to grow in and reside below your gum line, completely hidden. Soft tissue impaction means your teeth have grown from your jawbone but not erupted through your gums. Hard tissue impaction means the tooth hasn’t emerged from the jawbone.
There are several different types of impacted wisdom teeth:
- Mesial impaction: Your tooth is angled toward the front of your mouth
- Distal impaction: Your tooth is angled toward the back of your mouth
- Vertical impaction: Your tooth is in the proper upward position
- Horizon impaction: Your tooth is on its side
- Partial impaction: Part of your tooth is below the gum and part is exposed
Depending on which type of impaction you have, you may experience different issues. For example, a horizontal or angled impaction can compromise the health of your surrounding teeth. Partially impacted teeth are prone to decay.
Signs of impacted wisdom teeth
The signs of impaction vary depending on the complexity of your wisdom tooth’s position, but the general signs include:
- Red and swollen gums
- Jaw pain
- Facial swelling
- Bad breath
- Difficulty opening your mouth
- Bad taste in your mouth
These symptoms aren’t unique to impacted wisdom teeth, so it’s important to receive a thorough dental exam to confirm the source of your symptoms. Dr. Miller reviews X-ray images and performs an exam to confirm or rule out impacted wisdom teeth.
How we treat impacted wisdom teeth
Extraction is the best option for impacted wisdom teeth. During your surgery, Dr. Miller removes the problematic teeth in an outpatient procedure.
Wisdom teeth removal recovery takes anywhere from three days to a week, but in the long run, extraction can save you the time and pain of dealing with unwanted complications of impactions such as cysts, decay, and damage to surrounding teeth.
Are you noticing a problem with your back molars but aren’t sure if your wisdom teeth are the issue? Book an exam at Dentistry in Paradise by calling 805-967-0272. You can also request an appointment online.