Wisdom teeth, also known as our third molars, are the last teeth to grow in. Normally they will grow in between the ages of 17 and 25. We have no control over the size of our mouths, nor how our wisdom teeth will grow in. Because they are the last to grow, wisdom teeth commonly become impacted.
An impacted tooth is a tooth that does not emerge from the gums or emerge only partially. Wisdom teeth may become impacted when the tooth is turned to the side or positioned incorrectly in some form or another. Additionally, this condition occurs when there is not enough room in the jaw for the wisdom teeth to emerge.
An impacted tooth may very well be painless and go unnoticed. Other times when the impacted tooth tries to emerge, the gums will swell significantly, causing pain in the mouth and/or ear, as well as an infection. Sometimes the infection can spread to the throat. These conditions should never go untreated.
Symptoms may include pain when biting or chewing. Pain may occur for several days, and then disappear for weeks or even months before returning. One might have an unpleasant taste in the mouth, as well as bad breath. Other symptoms include difficulty opening the jaw and/or swelling along the jaw line, and swelling of the gums and in the back of the mouth. Please contact your dentist as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Your dentist will most likely recommend having the tooth extracted, as the impacted tooth may cause damage to teeth, gums, and bone.
Although having a tooth surgically extracted may sound scary, it is extremely common, and almost always less painful than the pain and discomfort that is associated with impacted wisdom teeth. Approximately 85% of wisdom teeth will need to be removed eventually.
Unfortunately there is no way to prevent a wisdom tooth from becoming impacted. If you visit your dentist regularly, he or she will keep track of your wisdom teeth and let you know if you need to have them extracted. Routine x-rays for cavities often do not show the wisdom teeth, your dentist may take special x-rays to check these teeth.
Dr. Sharon Robinson, DDS may be reached at 954-792-1857. The Dental Place is located at 6738 W Sunrise Blvd, #105, Plantation, Fl. 33313. You may also visit her website at www.dentalplace4u.com