Tradition says that those between the ages of 16 and 25 are entering into the age of wisdom. Dentistry tells us that this age also brings the emergence of wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that develop in early adulthood. For many people having their wisdom teeth come in is routine and their development goes largely unnoticed. However, emerging wisdom teeth can also have potentially painful complications if they become impacted.

What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth
An impacted wisdom tooth occurs when it is unable to fully break through (erupt) the gum line because an adjacent tooth blocks it. Wisdom teeth become impacted when there are more teeth in the mouth than the jaw can comfortably accommodate.

An impacted wisdom tooth may partially erupt so that some of the crown is visible resulting in a partially impacted wisdom tooth. The wisdom tooth may never break through the gums, causing a fully impacted tooth. Whether partially or fully impacted, the tooth may:

  • Grow at an angle toward the next tooth
  • Grow at an angle toward the back of the mouth
  • Grow at a right angle to the other teeth, as if the wisdom tooth is “lying down” within the jawbone
  • Grow straight up or down like other teeth but stay trapped within the jawbone

What Are the Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Crowding out other teeth and compromising the jawbone are not the only effects of impacted wisdom teeth. There are other more subtle signs of impacted wisdom teeth that can warn of their presence. You may experience some of these symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Headache

While these symptoms do not occur in every instance of impacted wisdom teeth they can help motivate you to visit your dentist for a professional diagnosis.

What Are the Consequences of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause the following problems:

  • Tooth damage – A wisdom tooth crowding in on another tooth can push it out of place and make it more prone to infection.
  • Cysts – If the compartment that the wisdom tooth grows in fills with fluid it can form a cyst that can damage the teeth, nerves, and even the jawbone.
  • Decay – Partially impacted wisdom teeth run a greater risk of tooth decay because bacteria gets trapped between the gum   and the partially erupted tooth.
  • Gum disease – Partially impacted teeth are more difficult to clean and run a greater risk of inflamed gums.

Don’t wait until your wisdom teeth become impacted! Early removal of impacted wisdom teeth can prevent painful, expensive complications.

Jean Brown Research is currently conducting a clinical research study of an investigational pain medication given after wisdom teeth removal. Qualified participants will receive study related medication and treatment at no cost to them, including wisdom teeth removal. See if you qualify by filling out our Utah wisdom teeth removal research study form or call Jean Brown Research at 801-261-2000 for full details of the study.