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Unpacking the Health Consequences of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

August 11, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — drlee @ 12:26 pm
A man rubbing his jaw due to impacted wisdom tooth pain

Wisdom teeth, the late bloomers of the tooth world, often cause people undue grief whenever they come to the surface in adolescence. Sometimes the teeth become impacted, growing sideways into your gums instead of coming to the surface. This will require extraction or oral surgery.

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause several issues if left untreated ranging from pain to dangerous conditions for your health. Continue reading to learn more about these complications and how you can prevent them.

Jaw Pain

When your wisdom teeth grow in, your jaw is already accommodating a full set of teeth. These extra teeth will try to come up in any way they can, which causes your teeth to begin crowding in your mouth and become misaligned.

If the wisdom teeth still don’t have enough room, they instead grow sideways—pressing against the roots of an adjacent tooth or into the jawbone and gums, causing discomfort.

While no two people will experience this in the same way, pain is present in nearly all cases of wisdom tooth impaction.

Tooth Decay

Poor oral hygiene can progress to the onset of tooth decay. This process involves the gradual breakdown of a tooth’s layers by bacteria-laden plaque.

In the case of an impacted wisdom tooth, it can be hard to clean due to its tight proximity to other teeth or its position within the gums. This can lead to a buildup of plaque that goes unseen until it is too late.

If left unattended, this can give way to cavities and infection, eventually breaking down the tooth entirely.

Gum Disease

Tooth decay is only one problem posed by the presence of bacterial plaque. If left untreated, the damage can spread to your gums as well, causing inflammation, swelling, and redness that indicates the presence of gum disease.

Pericoronitis is the medical term for this gum tissue infection surrounding wisdom teeth. This issue could lead to various complications that may spread throughout your body via the bloodstream.

Professional cleaning is required at this stage to eliminate the infection and prevent its resurgence. Your dentist may also offer medication to combat the infection, but pericoronitis leads to the loss of the infected tooth.

Cysts and Tumors

Occasionally, fluid may collect between the top of the wisdom tooth and the outer layer of enamel. This issue typically arises with a partially erupted or embedded tooth.

These fluid-filled sacs are known as dentigerous cysts, and they often burst once the molar emerges. However, if the sac grows within the jawbone, it can create a tumor that can cause the need to remove tissue or bone from the jaw.

To minimize the risks associated with impacted wisdom teeth, it’s essential to maintain an excellent oral health routine, including brushing, flossing, and rinsing at least twice a day. Additionally, visiting your dentist for X-rays to assess wisdom tooth impaction is crucial. 

With vigilance and preventive measures in place, you’ll not only ensure your wisdom teeth don’t pose a threat to your oral health but also minimize the risk of complications that could affect your overall well-being.

About the Author

Dr. Jeff Lee earned his dental doctorate from The Ohio State University College of Dentistry and still serves as a part-time faculty member in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department there. As a veteran of the United States Navy, Dr. Lee understands the importance of dedication and service in changing his patient’s lives for the better. To schedule an appointment at Muskingum Valley Oral Surgery, call (740) 629-9055 or visit the website for more information.

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