Your wisdom teeth usually appear in your late teens or early twenties, and apart from some mild pain as they break through your gums, they cause no problems unless they don't have enough room to emerge properly. When there isn't enough room, your wisdom teeth are said to be impacted and can cause both pain and damage to your existing teeth by either remaining trapped beneath the gum line or growing in at an angle that will push your existing teeth together, causing overcrowding.
Here's an overview of the symptoms and treatment for impacted wisdom teeth:
Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth can include:
- Jaw pain and swelling
- Inflamed gums
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth
- Bad breath
Your dentist will diagnose impacted wisdom teeth with a physical examination and x-rays of your mouth, which can show if your wisdom teeth are growing at a troublesome angle before they emerge. Impacted wisdom teeth typically have to be removed to prevent damage to your existing teeth.
The only time your dentist is likely to recommend you don't have an impacted wisdom tooth removed is if you have a molar, one of your back teeth, that's severely decayed and the wisdom tooth next to that molar is growing in straight, but just doesn't have enough room. In this situation the dentist may suggest removing the decayed molar, which will give the wisdom tooth room to grow in without affecting your existing teeth.
All four of your wisdom teeth can be extracted at the same time and you don't have to wait until they emerge through your gums to have them removed. The procedure is done under local anaesthetic and involves making small incisions in your gums, removing the teeth and stitching your gums. The stitches will dissolve over the course of a few weeks and your dentist will give you instructions for keeping your mouth clean and minimising the risk of infection developing while you heal such as rinsing with salt water and refraining from smoking.
You can take painkillers after the procedure and use cold compresses to help bring the swelling down, which may be present for a few days and make it difficult for you to open your mouth wide. You don't generally need to take time off work to recover from having your wisdom teeth out, but you may want to consider scheduling a few days off if your job involves lots of talking.
If you're experiencing any pain or swelling in your mouth or if you're concerned your wisdom teeth have yet to appear, schedule an appointment with your dentist for a thorough examination.
To learn more, contact a company like The Hills Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery with any questions you have.