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Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Dentist Downtown Washington, DC

X-ray image of wisdom teeth at Capital Dental Center.Wisdom teeth are the final set of teeth to emerge in your mouth. Occasionally, a wisdom tooth may get trapped beneath the gum line and grow at an unusual angle, which can lead to complications. This condition is known as an impacted wisdom tooth. Determining if your wisdom tooth is impacted at an early stage can help you get the necessary treatment. At Capital Dental Center, we insist on our patients undergoing regular checkups to detect such issues. Even if you are not suffering from any condition, visit us and let us check your teeth.

Understanding Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last adult teeth to appear at the back of the mouth. Most people have four wisdom teeth, with one located in each corner of the mouth. When there is not enough space for these teeth to emerge properly, they become impacted.

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, damage to other teeth, and various dental issues. Even if they do not cause immediate problems, they are often difficult to clean and may be more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.

To prevent or address these issues, impacted wisdom teeth with problems are also extracted. Most dentists and oral surgeons also suggest removing impacted wisdom teeth that are not causing any symptoms to avoid potential future complications. It is your decision as to whether to remove or retain wisdom teeth.

Causes of Wisdom Teeth Impaction

Wisdom teeth become impacted when there is not enough space for them to emerge or develop properly. These teeth normally appear between the ages of 17 and 26. While some people experience no issues with their wisdom teeth emerging behind the second molars and aligning correctly, many others find their mouths too crowded for the third molars to develop properly, resulting in impaction.

Impacted teeth may emerge partially, leading to pain and discomfort. If the tooth remains completely beneath the gums, it is referred to as a fully impacted wisdom tooth.

In general, wisdom teeth are impacted due to a lack of sufficient room to grow. They may also be impacted by teeth implants and other prosthetics that affect the natural orientation of your teeth.

Signs and Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Although it can be difficult to see the back of your mouth, there are a few ways to determine if you have an impacted wisdom tooth. If you are experiencing oral pain or jaw problems, you can use a mirror to check for additional symptoms. The back areas of our mouths are generally more prone to dental issues because molars have varied surfaces with cracks and fissures.

Wisdom teeth, especially if partially impacted, are even more vulnerable. To determine if you are suffering from an impacted wisdom tooth, look out for signs such as continuous swollen gums, tender or painful gums, bleeding gums, pain at the back of the mouth, bad breath, bad taste in the mouth, and chewing problems.

Complications Associated With Impacted Wisdom Teeth

While wisdom teeth may grow normally, in some cases, they may lead to complications. This is the reason why dentists recommend removing them early. Given that they are hidden at the far end of your mouth, wisdom teeth may lead to complications, as indicated below.

Damage to Other Teeth

If a wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, it might harm the second molar or increase the risk of infection in that area. This pressure can also cause crowding of the other teeth, possibly requiring orthodontic treatment to straighten them.

Dental Cysts

Wisdom teeth cause painful sacs to develop within the jawbone. These sacs quickly fill with fluid, resulting in cysts that may damage the jawbone. Rarely, a noncancerous tumor can develop, which might require the removal of some tissue and bone. Cysts can also be causes of continuous dental pain and sensitivity if untreated.

Tooth Decay

Partially impacted wisdom teeth are more likely to get cavities than other teeth. This is because their position makes them harder to clean, allowing food and bacteria to get trapped between the gum and the partially erupted tooth.

Gum Disease

Partially erupted wisdom teeth are difficult to clean, increasing the likelihood of a painful gum condition known as pericoronitis in those areas. Since the treatment of gum conditions can be complicated, it is recommended to remove wisdom teeth, especially those that are not well-developed.

Diagnosis and Evaluation of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

The best way to diagnose any issues with wisdom teeth is to visit a dentist. The dentist can examine your teeth and mouth to determine if you suffer from impacted wisdom teeth or another issue causing your symptoms. These exams usually involve asking questions about your dental symptoms and overall health. The dentist will also check the condition of your teeth and gums. If the wisdom teeth are ingrown, your dentist may take dental X-rays to identify impacted teeth and any signs of damage to nearby teeth or bone.

Treatment of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth that result in dental complications are usually removed through surgery. Extraction of a wisdom tooth is necessary to help prevent infection or gum disease. Tooth decay and cysts may also occur if the tooth is not extracted on time.

Extraction is mostly an outpatient procedure, so you will likely go home the same day. The process is done in two steps, starting with the application of local anesthesia to the affected area. You may receive local anesthesia to numb your mouth, sedation anesthesia to lower your awareness, or general anesthesia to put you to sleep. This step is followed by the extraction process. During the extraction, the oral surgeon makes an incision in your gums and removes the bones that are hindering access to the affected tooth root. Following the removal of the tooth, the surgeon closes the wound.

Impacted wisdom teeth can be a source of pain and discomfort. Over time, those who suffer from impacted wisdom teeth may be required to have them removed. However, removing the wisdom teeth is not mandatory. If your teeth have easily erupted through the gums and are in good condition, there is no need to remove them.

To learn more about caring for and treating wisdom teeth, visit us at Capital Dental Center. You may also call us at 202-978-8778 to discuss your options.

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Impacted Wisdom Teeth | Dentist Downtown Washington D.C.
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