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Impacted Wisdom Teeth: What You Need to Know

According to accepted statistics, more than 90% of young adults (around the age of 20) have at least one wisdom tooth that hasn’t or has partially erupted. It’s not uncommon for wisdom teeth to erupt until the patient is in his or her late 20’s or early 30’s.

The dental practice of routine wisdom tooth extraction began in the 1950’s. In 2015, Dr. Tara Renton, Professor of Oral Surgery at King’s College, London stated that more than 500,000 wisdom tooth extractions are performed by the NHS every single year.

So, what do you need to know about impacted wisdom teeth? Let’s have a look at the symptoms, risks, diagnoses and treatments for patients who have impacted wisdom teeth.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

From birth to adulthood, teeth erupt in stages. The first teeth to come in are incisors, followed by canines. Premolars and molars are the next set of teeth to erupt from the gums, with the final stage being wisdom teeth.

Often referred to as third molars by learned and experienced dentists in Galway – and across the UK – wisdom teeth appear at the back of a patient’s mouth. It’s not uncommon for patients to never have the slightest problem with their wisdom teeth, however some patients can experience discomfort, pain and even infection – these symptoms are more potent in patients who endure impacted wisdom teeth.

In instances where wisdom teeth don’t have enough space inside your mouth to emerge from the gum, or if a tooth or teeth become lodged beneath your gum, they are ‘impacted.’ This can result in tooth decay and other dental problems – leading to disease in the worst-case scenarios.

The Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

As any knowledgeable Galway dentists will tell you, the symptoms of impacted teeth are clear and easy to identify. These symptoms can increase in severity depending on the position of a patient’s wisdom teeth in relation to surrounding teeth and when the wisdom teeth are fully or partially erupted.

Patients can expect an impacted tooth to cause food to be trapped in difficult or impossible to reach areas of the mouth to clean. If left situated in the same place, this can lead to cavities, infection and the tooth becoming very painful.

Should the tooth become infected, there are a wealth if indicators that patients should be aware of. Such symptoms range from pain or swelling around the jaw and red, swollen or bleeding gums to pungent breath and an unsavoury taste in the patient’s mouth. The patient may also find it difficult to open and close their mouth.

The Risks of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Patients suffering with impacted wisdom teeth are exposed to several risks. Not only is the eruption of one or more wisdom teeth at the back of the mouth likely to be very painful, inhibiting what a patient can and cannot eat, it’s likely to be quite painful.

There are a handful of more serious health risks to patients who leave impacted wisdom teeth untreated for prolonged periods of time. As responsible Galway dentists, we’ve listed these below:

  • Damage to surrounding teeth – should the wisdom teeth grow in a way that it pushes against the second molar, it may damage the tooth and / or increase the risk of infection in the area. This pressure can also cause problems with the crowding of the teeth or require orthodontic treatment to straighten teeth in the future.
  • Cysts – should the wisdom tooth develop in a sac within the jawbone, this sac can become filled with fluid. If left untreated, this can damage teeth, the jawbone and nerves. Very often benign (or non-cancerous) this doesn’t stop a cyst from developing into a large problem – something that can eventually require the removal of tissue and even bone.
  • Decay – partially impacted wisdom teeth carry a higher risk of decay than any other teeth. This is because wisdom teeth are harder to clean than other teeth and food and bacteria can easily become trapped between the gum and a partially erupted tooth.
  • Gum disease – the difficulty in cleaning partially erupted wisdom teeth carries with it an increased risk of gum disease. This risk of patients developing pericoronitis (a painful and inflammatory gum condition) is increased significantly.

The Diagnoses of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Despite the pain and suffering patients of impacted wisdom teeth endure and the symptoms and risks associated with impacted wisdom teeth learned dentists in Galway – and across the UK – understand that diagnosing impacted wisdom teeth is a reasonably straightforward process.

Dentists can diagnose if your wisdom teeth are impacted by taking a simple x-ray of your mouth. They can look at your wisdom teeth from several angles viewing the crown of your tooth and the roots. The angle of your tooth and whether it’s protruding on a tooth allows dentists to clearly identify if one or more of your wisdom teeth are impacted.

Meticulous Galway dentists will also be able to diagnose any infections resulting from the impacted wisdom tooth. This will appear as discolouration on an x-ray and be evident upon viewing the image.

The Treatment of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Though there are a range of home remedies used to treat impacted wisdom teeth, it’s not uncommon for dentists to recommend a wisdom tooth extraction. This is completed to prevent the spread of infection, relieve pain and to quash the potential for further health complications to arise.

Any wisdom tooth extraction is usually an outpatient procedure. Patients are free to return home on the same day, usually with the recommendation that they don’t drive and that they take the opportunity to relax for the remainder of the day.

Part of the procedure involves the use of anaesthetic drugs to induce sedation. Patients have the choice of a local anaesthetic which merely numbs your mouth, sedation anaesthetic to relax you and block any pain or a general anaesthetic which will makes patients unconscious during the entire procedure.

Then learned and experienced dentists in Galway will make an incision in patient’s gums and remove the problematic wisdom tooth – and any additional impacted tooth with significant cavities or infection. The whole procedure takes about 30-60 minutes and, in most cases, is considered routine.

There is all the pertinent information that you need to know about wisdom teeth. Should you be in pain and suffering the effects of impacted teeth, or wish to ask any questions about wisdom teeth in general, call us today on: (091) 58 22 22 or email: info@galwaydentists.ie.

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