Impacted wisdom teeth occur when other teeth cause blockages in their path, also known as impaction, which prevents them from fully erupting. There are four main types of impaction – angular, horizontal, vertical and partial eruption. The first three describe the main direction of the tooth suffering from the blockage, and the final type describes a tooth that does not fully emerge into the mouth, instead remaining underneath the gum.
Wisdom teeth usually begin to come through between the ages of 17 and 21, but their eruption can continue until the age of 25 and even beyond. Impaction can happen any time during the process, and the difficulty with the removal of impacted wisdom teeth is often associated with the age of the patient. Treatment can vary from localised antiseptic cleaning and antibiotics, to removal of the teeth or coronectomy in more severe cases.
Signs and Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Due to the wide range of painful symptoms and complications, it is wise to familiarise yourself with the signs of impacted wisdom teeth so you can seek professional help early. If not for yourself, for your children or grand-children who may fall into the affected age range. Regular dental check-ups, with panelipse x-rays if necessary, will also help identify problem cases of impaction earlier in the process.
Warning signs of impacted wisdom teeth to look out for include the following primary symptoms:
- Pain – varying from mild to severe
- Gum problems – bleeding, swelling or tenderness in particular
- Swelling of the jaw and/or difficulty opening it
Alongside an array of other secondary symptoms, which may or may appear not from patient to patient:
- Unpleasant, odorous breath
- A lingering bad taste in the mouth
- Earaches/headaches between the jaw and the skull
- Swollen glands
Why you shouldn’t leave impacted wisdom teeth untreated
If you or your children are suffering from any of the primary or secondary symptoms above, we would highly recommend you coming in for a professional assessment, as there is a strong likelihood of some impaction. If left untreated, the impaction can be a catalyst for abnormal development in adjacent teeth (due to crowding in the mouth) – the second molars can be adversely affected from unwanted pressure from the wisdom teeth and often become infected or require orthodontia.
Worryingly, severe gum disease and major tooth decay can also appear over time, as the impaction can mean the wisdom teeth become difficult or altogether impossible to clean effectively. Another highly problematic and extremely painful side effect sometimes produced by impacted wisdom teeth is the development of cysts, which occur due to a fluid build up caused by the impaction. If you are experiencing any of the signs symptoms detailed above, please contact us urgently on (03) 9781 3633 for a full examination and professional advice on how to proceed.