Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Everyone knows about wisdom teeth; they are the third set of molars that are set in the very back of your mouth. They come in during your late teens or early adulthood. While wisdom teeth aren’t usually a cause for concern, you might experience some discomfort if you are diagnosed with impacted wisdom teeth. Despite how diligently you brush your teeth or how regularly you floss, there’s hardly anything you can do to prevent impacted wisdom tooth pain.

While the entire premise of this dental condition sounds unpleasant, getting a complete lowdown of the condition can prepare you for what’s in store.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

You cannot control the size of your jaw or how teeth grow into it. While some people’s jaws are the right size and accommodate all the teeth, others might not be so fortunate. This happens because our jaws are meant to have room for approximately 28 teeth, which is the exact number you have before your wisdom teeth come in. Your wisdom teeth make their appearance between the age of 17 and 25 and do not serve any particular purpose. The problem arises when the wisdom teeth do not come through in proper alignment or they do not come out all through the gumline. This condition is called impacted wisdom teeth, where the wisdom teeth are trapped between the jawbone and the gum tissue.1

What are the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth?

The wisdom tooth under your gum usually goes unnoticed as it doesn’t cause any problems. However, impacted wisdom teeth tend to cause a great deal of discomfort, and make their presence evident enough. The major symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth include:

  • Tooth pain:

    The throbbing pain in your wisdom tooth is an indication that your molars are, in fact, impacted wisdom teeth. This pain occurs because your wisdom teeth are prevented from emerging from the jawbone as they normally should. At times, an impacted wisdom tooth can break through the gums, and parts of the gums tend to become visible. This condition is called a partially impacted wisdom tooth. Food particles get stuck in this tooth, which makes it very difficult to clean it. If left unchecked, the tooth can get infected, and you may experience symptoms such as:

    • Pain or swelling around the jaw

    • Bad breath

    • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums

    • An unpleasant taste in your mouth

    • Trouble opening your mouth2

    While the only permanent solution to treating impacted wisdom teeth is to get them removed, you can manage these symptoms with some help from advanced dental products from Oral-B. You can try Oral-B iO 8 Ultimate Clean Electric Toothbrush that gives you a gentle brushing experience and a fresh, clean mouthfeel. It also comes with six Smart Modes that help you personalise your brushing experience. Since you have to deal with impacted wisdom tooth pain, the Smart Pressure Sensor turns red when you brush too hard and green when the pressure is just right. This might offer some relief for impacted tooth pain.

  • Swelling and infection

    Impacted wisdom teeth are accompanied by pain, infection, and significant swelling around them. Moreover, they also damage the gums, teeth, and bone around them, which is why dentists often recommend having them removed. Removing impacted wisdom teeth can be a challenging task and there are chances of complications arising from the surgery itself. The longer the impacted tooth pain persists, the higher the chances of an oral infection.

What causes impacted wisdom teeth?

Impacted wisdom teeth occur when there’s not enough room for your third molars (wisdom teeth) to come in naturally. Sometimes, the impacted wisdom tooth breaks out partially, which again causes a great deal of pain. Irrespective of whether the tooth is partially or fully impacted, it can grow in different directions, such as:

  • Towards the back of the mouth

  • Towards the next tooth (second molar)

  • Straight up or down like regular teeth, but instead, they remain trapped within the jawbone3

  • At a right angle to the other teeth; it gives an impression that the wisdom tooth is “lying down” within the jawbone.

Types of impacted wisdom teeth

The different type of impaction that affects the wisdom tooth are:

  • Partial-bony impacted: In this type of impaction, the wisdom tooth removal involves extracting the tooth that is partially stuck in the jaw.

  • Full-bony impacted: This type of impaction is the most difficult to remove as the wisdom tooth is completely stuck in the jaw.

  • Soft-tissue impacted: In this type of impaction, the wisdom tooth is stuck under the gum.

  • Erupted: This type of impaction is the easiest since the tooth is visible and has already appeared in the mouth.4

How to treat impacted wisdom teeth?

The only impacted wisdom tooth treatment is to surgically remove it. The surgeon will numb your mouth to ensure that you don’t experience discomfort during the procedure. A simple incision is made to remove one or all of your impacted wisdom teeth, and they are extracted. Once the extraction is complete, stitches are used to close the incision and allow the gums to heal.

Impacted wisdom teeth can be quite painful and cause a great deal of discomfort. While the condition is out of your control, you can manage the symptoms with the help of advanced dental products from Oral-B. And, let’s not forget that you can always visit your dentist if the pain becomes unmanageable.

Frequently-asked questions

  1. What happens if you don’t remove impacted wisdom teeth?

    Impacted wisdom teeth can cause severe pain, and often lead to tooth decay and resorption of healthy teeth. Also, if the teeth aren’t monitored properly, the growth moves parallel to the jawline. Moreover, since the growth isn’t linear, it can move back and interfere with the opening or closing of your jaw.

  2. What is the sign of an infection caused by impacted wisdom teeth?

    The first sign of an infection caused by impacted wisdom teeth is the presence of pain at the back of your mouth, either in or around the wisdom tooth. If left unchecked, this pain can spread into the throat and neck, and eventually reach your jaw.

  3. How long does it take for impacted wisdom teeth to heal?

    After the impacted wisdom tooth treatment, it takes about six weeks to heal. After the surgery, you might not be able to open your mouth normally for about a week, and you might experience some swelling, pain, and bleeding. This is why you need to eat only soft foods.

Read more about how to brush your teeth and other oral care tips