What are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Impacted wisdom teeth describe when your third molars become partially or fully trapped in your gums or jawbone. Wisdom teeth usually become impacted when your jaw doesn’t have enough space to accommodate your teeth. They are the last set of teeth that grow in and usually erupt (or break through your gums) between the ages of 17 and 25. If wisdom teeth erupt in alignment with your other teeth, they may not cause any serious problems; however, in other instances, they become either partially or fully trapped in your gums or jawbone, which is impaction. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause oral health problems like cavities, tooth decay, gum disease and infection.
Different Types of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
According to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 90% of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, infection and damage to other teeth, and are also difficult to clean. Because of this, they’re more prone to tooth decay and gum disease than other teeth. Believe it or not, there are actually four types of impacted wisdom teeth. Each type matches with the positioning of your tooth:
- The most common type is mesial impaction. This occurs when your wisdom tooth is angled toward the front of your mouth.
- The rarest type is distal impaction. This happens when your wisdom tooth is angled toward the back of your mouth.
- The third type is vertical impaction. This is when your wisdom tooth is in the correct position for eruption, but still trapped beneath your gums.
- Lastly, horizontal impaction is when your wisdom tooth is turned completely on its side, trapped beneath your gums. This type is often painful because it places excess pressure on the teeth in front of them.
Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
There are situations where impacted wisdom teeth don’t cause any noticeable problems. Additionally, symptoms may develop suddenly or gradually over time. Here are the most common signs of impacted wisdom teeth:
- Pain or swelling of your jaw or face
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
- A bad taste in your mouth or bad breath (halitosis)
- Difficulty opening your mouth all the way
More Info about Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Although you can’t prevent impacted wisdom teeth, you can reduce the risk of the problems they cause. As always, it’s important to practice and maintain a good oral hygiene routine.
If your wisdom teeth are impacted but aren’t causing any problems, you may not need to remove them. This is something that you should have a professional determine to ensure that there truly are not any oral health issues occurring. If you do start developing symptoms, removing them can reduce your risk of other dental health issues while improving your overall oral health.
If you’re experiencing pain or other symptoms affecting the area behind your last molar, it’s good practice to schedule an appointment with your dentist who can accurately determine if your issues are due to impacted wisdom teeth.
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