65% of people develop wisdom teeth around the ages 17-25.
Of that percentage, around 70-80% of those suffer with at least one impacted wisdom tooth; however, the reason why impacted teeth occur is quite complex.
Due to its commonality, it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth.
What is an impacted tooth?
An impacted tooth is one that fails to grow correctly in the mouth, barely or even failing to erupt through the gums. Some impacted teeth fully erupt through the gums but are set at an angle that makes chewing and speaking quite difficult.
Being impacted is very common with wisdom teeth, and often times, one does not have the sufficient space in their mouth and jaw to house a third set of molars. This can be painful, and wisdom teeth that are impacted still have to be removed due to the difficulty caused by them.
What are the signs of an impacted tooth?
Even though impacted third molars barely, if at all, erupt through the gums, there are still many signs and symptoms one can look out for:
- A swollen mouth
- Damage to nearby teeth
- Jaw pain and/or stiffness
- General oral pain
- Gum infections
- Extensive tooth decay
- Sudden bad breath (halitosis)
- Bleeding gums (may also be a symptom of gum (periodontal) disease
- Red, irritated gums
- Unpleasant flavor in the mouth
- Trouble eating, speaking, or opening your mouth
What types of impacted teeth are there?
Some are surprised with how many ways in which wisdom teeth can be impacted. Each type is problematic and must be extracted at some point:
- Vertical impaction: A tooth that correctly emerged through the gums but is considered impacted because it cannot be housed in the mouth due to limited space
- Horizontal impaction: When a tooth erupts through the gums but is angled horizontally on its side in a 90-degree angle
- Distal impaction: Where a tooth has fully erupted through the gums but is angled towards the back of the mouth
- Mesial impaction: The most common type of impaction where a tooth that has fully erupted through the gums but is angled towards the opening of the mouth
- Bony impaction: Teeth that are still in the jawbone but erupted through the gums
- Soft tissue impaction: When the teeth only partially erupt through the gums, often risking oral infection
When should I contact my dentist about my impacted wisdom teeth?
It’s important to contact your dentist as soon as you experience any symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth for multiple reasons:
- The oral-related symptoms you experience regarding your “impacted wisdom teeth” may actually be a result of something else.
- Your dentist can decide when you should have your impacted teeth removed.
- Your dentist can also recommend certain over-the-counter pain relievers or even prescribe pain medication, so you can handle the pain better.
You should especially get in contact with your dentist as soon as possible if your symptoms persist or worsen over the course of time. If tooth impaction is in fact the underlying cause of your oral-related symptoms, these can be addressed quickly, and your impacted teeth can be removed sooner than later.