Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. Wisdom teeth got their name because they appear so late compared to your other teeth, presumably at an age where you are “wiser.”
If you have never had your wisdom teeth removed or if you’re experiencing pain in the area where they should be, make an appointment with our Edgewood, KY dentists today by calling 859-474-7830 or completing our online appointment form.
If your teeth are positioned correctly in your mouth and aren’t causing any pain, then it’s not necessary to have them removed. It’s very common, however, for these teeth to become impacted because the mouth is too crowded to accommodate them. This is when your dentist may recommend extraction.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
A fully impacted wisdom tooth is one that never breaks through the gums. A wisdom tooth can also partially emerge, meaning that only some of the crown is visible.
Impacted wisdom teeth don’t always cause pain or other symptoms. However, when an impacted wisdom tooth becomes infected or pushes on your other teeth, you might experience some of these signs or symptoms:
- Red, swollen, and/or bleeding gums
- Jaw pain
- An unpleasant taste in your mouth
- Swelling around the jaw
- Bad breath
- Difficulty opening your mouth
Whether partially or fully impacted, the tooth may:
- Grow at an angle toward your second molar
- Grow at an angle toward the back of your mouth
- Grow at a right angle to the other teeth, appearing as though the wisdom tooth is “lying down” within the jawbone
- Grow straight up or down like other teeth but become trapped within the jawbone
Problems Wisdom Teeth Can Cause
Wisdom teeth can cause other problems than just pain. Here are a few ways that wisdom teeth can have issues:
- Decay. There seems to be a higher risk of tooth decay in partially impacted wisdom teeth. Even if your wisdom teeth come through alright and aren’t causing you a lot of pain, your dentist may still recommend they be extracted. That’s because wisdom teeth are not always easy to clean, making them very susceptible to cavities. Food can get trapped between the gum and a partially erupted tooth.
- Damage to other teeth. When wisdom teeth come into a crowded mouth, they can push against the second molars. This could damage those second molars or increase the risk of infection in that area. If your mouth is too crowded when your wisdom teeth erupt, it can cause your other teeth to overlap, requiring orthodontic treatment to straighten them out.
- Gum disease. Since it’s so difficult to clean impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth, you have an increased chance of developing a painful gum disease called periodontitis.
- Dental cysts. Dental cysts can form around the crowns (and roots) of buried teeth. They can form because of a mistake in the way the teeth have developed (including being unable to grow into the mouth properly).
The dentists at Edgewood Dental Care can evaluate your teeth and mouth to determine if you have impacted wisdom teeth or if your wisdom teeth have grown in at an angle. Such evaluations typically include:
- Questions about your dental symptoms and general health
- An examination of the condition of your teeth and gums
- Dental X-rays that can show the presence of impacted teeth
What Happens During An Extraction?
A wisdom tooth that is fully erupted through the gum can be extracted as easily as any other tooth. However, a wisdom tooth that is still under the gums and is embedded in the jawbone will require an incision into the gums and then removal of the portion of bone that lies over the tooth.
At Edgewood Dental Care, we offer several types of sedation based on the level of comfort you need, including nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and IV sedation. We will also numb the area around the wisdom tooth to be extracted. After you have received painless numbing and sedation to calm your nerves, Dr. McMahon will remove your impacted wisdom tooth/teeth. During the procedure, you will be alert enough to answer questions. However, due to the sedation you won’t remember the procedure afterwards.
After the wisdom teeth removal surgery, Dr. McMahon will provide you with instructions for aftercare. The whole thing takes about an hour or less, depending on the condition and position of your wisdom teeth.
What Is Recovery Like?
Recovery is fairly quick. To lessen discomfort and to ensure that your mouth heals well, follow Dr. McMahon’s aftercare instructions (eat soft and liquid foods at first; avoid putting pressure on the extraction sites for the first few days).