What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth are the upper and lower third molars, located at the very back of the mouth. They are called wisdom teeth because usually they come in when a person is between 17 and 21 years or older old enough to have gained some wisdom. Wisdom teeth that are healthy and properly positioned do not cause problems.
What is an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?
A tooth is described as impacted if it is blocked from erupting into the mouth fully. Thus it will lie at an angle instead of being upright, remaining tipped against the tooth in front of it. Technically, any tooth can become impacted but it is wisdom teeth that are the most often affected, owing to their late eruption. Impacted teeth can cause a range of problems, but it should also be noted that they may cause no problems at all.
What causes problems with wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth may break partway through your gums, causing a flap of gum tissue to grow over them where food can become trapped and a gum infection can develop. Wisdom teeth can also come in crooked or facing the wrong direction. Or, if your jaw is not large enough to give them room, they may become impacted and unable to break through your gums. You may have trouble properly cleaning around wisdom teeth because they are so far in the back of your mouth and may be crowded.
What are the symptoms with wisdom teeth problems?
Most problems with wisdom teeth develop in people between the ages of 15 and 25. Few people older than 30 develop problems that require removal of their wisdom teeth.Wisdom teeth often cause no symptoms. Symptoms that may mean your wisdom teeth need to be removed include:
Pain or jaw stiffness near an impacted tooth
Pain or irritation from a tooth coming in at an awkward angle and rubbing against your cheek, tongue, or top or bottom of the mouth.
An infected swelling in the flap of gum tissue that has formed on top of an impacted tooth that has partially broken through the gum.
Crowding of other teeth.
Tooth decay or gum disease if there’s not enough room to properly care for the wisdom tooth and surrounding teeth.
How are problems with wisdom teeth diagnosed?
Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums for signs of a wisdom tooth coming through your gum or crowding other teeth. You will have X-rays to find out whether your wisdom teeth are causing problems now or are likely to cause problems in the future.