Understanding the implications of impacted wisdom teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth should not be ignored, even if you are not currently experiencing discomfort or other oral health issues. Left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to tooth decay, resorption of nearby teeth roots, gum disease, or an infection. In many cases, extraction is the recommended treatment.
Trapped beneath the gumline
Wisdom tooth impaction is most commonly caused by the patient’s jawbone being too small to fit a third row of molars. With insufficient space in the mouth for additional teeth, the new molars become lodged in place.
As the tooth continues to push forward, pressure begins to form as it presses against an adjacent tooth, tissue or bone.
Coming in at an angle
The first danger presented by an impaction is that the tooth will twist and turn in an attempt to find a way through the gum line. A tooth coming in at an angle can cause strong discomfort and eventually lead to damage to adjacent teeth.
Difficult to clean
A partially-erupted wisdom tooth can trap bacteria and food particles underneath the skin flap. Impacted teeth also create small pockets of space between the teeth that are difficult to reach. Both gum disease and cavities tend to manifest in untreated impacted wisdom teeth.
Early detection is key
Some wisdom tooth impactions are 100% asymptomatic. This is why it is important for patients to visit their dentist regularly and have x-rays taken during their early and late teenage years. Detecting an impacted tooth before it becomes problematic facilitates removal and significantly lowers the risk of further complications.