Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Adults develop a total of 32 permanent teeth. 28 of these teeth erupt by around the age of 13. The last four teeth do not erupt until your late teens to early 20s. The third molars, more commonly known as wisdom teeth, are the last of your teeth to erupt and the ones that are most likely to cause significant oral health issues, which can cause significant pain and interfere with your daily life. If your wisdom teeth are impacted, Simon K. Choyee, DDS, Inc. can help.
A Brief History of Wisdom Teeth
The wisdom teeth used to have a very important function. Back before the invention of cooking, our ancestors relied on their third molars for breaking down a variety of course foods. The jaw was also wider, allowing for all 32 teeth to fit comfortably in the mouth. However, when cooking was developed, food was made easier to eat. This meant that the wisdom teeth were not as important. Over time, the jaw began to shrink down to what it is today. Despite having smaller jaws, and no need for the wisdom teeth, they continue to develop.
Causes of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth are those that do not, or cannot, properly erupt through the gums. This can happen for a variety of different reasons. Common causes of impacted wisdom teeth include:
|Not enough room in the jaw
|Bone or tissue is blocking the path of your wisdom teeth
|The wisdom teeth are growing at an angle
Complications of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
When your wisdom teeth are impacted, it can lead to several different issues that can affect your oral health and your quality of life.
|Overcrowding. As your wisdom teeth attempt to grow in, they can put pressure on the adjacent teeth, shoving them out of alignment.
|Infections: If a wisdom tooth has only partially grown in, it can easily trap food particles and bacteria that can lead to an infection.
|Cysts:A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that often develops as a result of an infection. Cysts continue to grow in size when they are not treated, which can damage your jawbone.
|Tooth damage: Wisdom teeth growing sideways can grow into the sides of your adjacent teeth, which can cause damage to these teeth below the gum line.
How Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth Diagnosed?
Jaw pain at the back of your mouth is a common symptom of impacted wisdom teeth, along with difficulty moving and using your mouth. If you suspect that your wisdom teeth are impacted, it is important to make an appointment right away.
First, diagnosing impacted wisdom teeth involves a thorough oral exam. We look over the inside of your mouth, checking for symptoms of infection, signs of partially erupted teeth, and teeth that are beginning to shift out of alignment. We also take X-rays of your mouth, which allow us to see below your gum line. We can see exactly where your wisdom teeth are if there is any damage to your adjacent teeth, and if there are any cysts present. After diagnosing your impacted wisdom teeth, we are then able to move forward with treatment.
Treating Impacted Wisdom Teeth
The best way to treat impacted wisdom teeth is to extract or remove them. Teeth are extracted in one of two ways, with a simple extraction or with a surgical extraction. Removal of wisdom teeth often involve a surgical extraction. This procedure involves making incisions in your gums, exposing the teeth and the surrounding jawbone. The teeth are then removed. This may involve removing a small amount of bone or sectioning the teeth to remove them in segments. After the teeth are removed, the gums are sutured closed.
If you suspect that your wisdom teeth are impacted, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. For more information, and to schedule your consultation, call Simon K. Choyee, DDS, Inc. at (562) 947-4781 today.