Impacted wisdom teeth are a common dental condition wherein the wisdom teeth, which are the third molars, are unable to emerge fully out of the gums due to lack of space, unusual positioning or growth in an aberrant angle. Most individuals have four wisdom teeth at the back of their mouth, two on the top and two at the bottom, which generally do not pose any challenges once they shoot up in their entirety.
However, when the wisdom teeth are impacted, it invariably triggers tooth pain, impairment of the neighbouring teeth and other oral health issues. The primary method to rectify the concern of impacted wisdom teeth is their complete removal by a medical professional and this must be done to avoid rather painful symptoms and further grave dental consequences.
Causes Of Impacted Wisdom Teeth:
The main reason for the impaction of wisdom teeth is the insufficient area to erupt fully out of the gums or to develop in the usual manner. Wisdom teeth arise in people between the ages of 17 to 25 and in quite a few cases, grow normally in the correct alignment with neighbouring teeth, without inducing any pain. But when there is overcrowding due to the wrong orientation of other teeth, then the wisdom teeth become impacted.
When the wisdom teeth are trapped in the gums completely, they are fully impacted and when only the crown i.e. the top portion of the teeth is visible, it is considered as partially impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth tend to incline at odd angles while growing, such as towards the back of the mouth, leaning on to the adjacent tooth or at a right angle lying flat within the gums and not upright like other teeth.
In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth do not prompt any pain. Yet, for a significant number of people, impacted wisdom teeth trigger myriad indications, including:
- Pain in the mouth
- Inflammation and redness due to infection
- Bleeding in the gums
- Halitosis i.e. bad breath
- An unfavourable taste lingering in the mouth
- Aching in the jaws
- Uneasiness and pain while opening the mouth wide
Severe instances of impaction of the wisdom teeth result in deterioration of neighbouring teeth, aside from cysts in the oral cavity, dental cavities and gum disease.
The dentist checks the teeth and gums of the patient thoroughly and also enquires about the type and intensity of symptoms and pain encountered by the patient. Furthermore, a dental X-ray is also carried out, to obtain detailed images of the impaction of wisdom teeth and corrosion of the structure of adjoining teeth or even the jawbone.
Impacted wisdom teeth that do not induce any symptoms can usually be managed with just good oral hygiene practices of brushing, flossing and cleaning the tongue once daily, to prevent any infection from stemming in those regions.
When impacted wisdom teeth become infected, prompt swelling, redness, pain, cysts, tumours or brush hard against adjacent teeth leading to their destruction, the dentist recommends surgery to remove the wisdom teeth completely. This involves the patient initially being put under local or general anaesthesia to numb the pain, then creating an incision in the gums to extract only one wisdom tooth or multiple wisdom teeth based on the symptoms and dental health concerns. Following this, the surgeon seals the wound with stitches/sutures and fills the vacant area with gauze.Since the wisdom teeth extraction results in undue pain, swelling of the mouth and jaws and even bleeding from the gums, the dentist also prescribes analgesics i.e. medications to relieve pain and cold compress therapy to soothe the inflammation and discomfort in and around the mouth.