Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth got their name because they show up as we are older and wiser, typically around late adolescence or early adulthood. As our third molars, they used to serve a legitimate function in our mouths. In the past, our diets were tougher and harder to chew, which meant we needed an extra set of teeth to help us eat as we wore our other teeth down.
Now, since our diets are softer and easier to digest, these wisdom teeth are often redundant. They, unfortunately, did not get that memo and will still try to come in anyway. For some of our patients, they can erupt without a problem. However, for many of them, we here at DFW Oral Surgeons often see problems with them failing to erupt, leading to impaction.
What are the Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Impaction means that your tooth failed to erupt from the gumline properly and instead remains trapped beneath it. While this condition is not always going to be painful, for many patients, it can lead to several uncomfortable symptoms.
Signs of wisdom tooth impaction can include pain and tenderness in the back of your jaw, swelling at the site of the impaction, a bad taste in your mouth, gums that are red or bleeding, and problems opening and closing your mouth. Swollen glands and headaches can also occur. If you have an impacted wisdom tooth, there may be a chance that we may need to extract it for you.
Four Main Types of Impaction
There are four main kinds of wisdom tooth impaction that can occur. A common type of impaction is referred to as mesial impaction. This means that the tooth is growing in at an angle, facing the front of your mouth. It may start to press painfully against the tooth next to it. Having mesial impaction does not automatically require extraction, and it may erupt partially on its own, but we will monitor it to determine if it does need removal.
The least common type of wisdom tooth impaction is called distal impaction. Unlike mesial impaction, this tooth is pointed toward the back of your mouth. Like mesial impaction, we will watch it see if it erupts on its own. If the angle of it is too steep, it may hit your bone and become painful and need to be extracted.
The least bothersome impaction is known as vertical and, in this case, the tooth is almost pointed directly upward. While it may have a slight angle to it, which may cause it to hit surrounding teeth, there is a very good chance that it will erupt on its own without our help.
Finally, the most painful type of impaction is horizontal impaction. That means your tooth is on its side and can ram against the surrounding tooth. It is quite painful for many of our patients and will require extraction, as it will not correct itself on its own. Failure to promptly address it can lead to permanent damage to the tooth next to it.
Dental extraction does not always require surgical intervention, but when it does, you can trust that we here at DFW Oral Surgeons will give you the highest quality of compassionate care. To learn more about impacted wisdom teeth, or to set up an appointment with us, please give us a call today at (972) 539-1491.
John C. Shillingburg, DDS
Certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Seattle Study Club Established in 2013 by John C. Shillingburg, DDS