Typically, wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are the last teeth to erupt between the ages of 17 and 21. If you have a small mouth, narrow jaw, or your wisdom tooth is incorrectly positioned, the tooth may never emerge causing impaction. If wisdom teeth emerge, they may not position themselves correctly in the back of your mouth. In both situations, Dr. Dernick may recommend wisdom tooth extraction.
Typical symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth that may need to be removed are swollen gum in the back of the mouth or side of the jaw, difficulty opening your jaw, consistent bad breath, unpleasant taste in your mouth, pain when chewing or biting, or pain/irritation when opening your mouth. Additionally, pain may occur for a few days and disappear for weeks or months.
As the wisdom teeth emerge, the overlying gums swell and cause pain that can be felt around the tooth or even by the ear. Sometimes, erupted teeth collect food and debris which can lead to an infection named pericoronitis. Without treatment, this infection spread into the throat and neck areas. Additionally, if a wisdom tooth develops tooth decay or moves a nearby tooth, then the decay can worsen or your bite can become impaired. In rare cases, wisdom teeth can create cysts and benign jaw tumors which can lead to bone destruction.
You cannot prevent an impacted tooth; however, proper oral hygiene through brushing, flossing, and using a water-jet can decrease your risk for infection. If your impacted tooth becomes infected or starts affecting nearby teeth, Dr. Dernick may need to extract it. A typical extraction can take between 5 to 30 minutes with the use of a local anesthetic for your comfort.