Warning signs of impacted wisdom teeth

95% of all adults grow a third set of molars between the ages of 17 and 25. If you’re over 18 and wondering where your wisdom teeth are, you might be one of the lucky five percent. Then again, you might be dealing with impacted wisdom teeth and not even know it.

It’s important to tend to impacted wisdom teeth before they present a serious problem. Left untreated, they can lead to infection, an abscess or even teeth erupting sideways through your gums.

If you notice any of the following warning signs, your wisdom teeth may be impacted. Make an appointment with your dentist for an X-ray and examination.

Gums are red or swollen at the back of your jaw

Red or swollen gums are a sign of inflammation. If the redness persists and the swelling doesn’t appear to go down after a week, there’s a chance something is wrong.

Tender gums

Tender or sensitive gums behind your second row of molars may be an indication that new teeth are trying to erupt but are having trouble getting through.

Many patients’ mouths simply aren’t large enough for a third row of molars and so this final tooth can become wedged between the bone and the adjacent tooth.

Jaw pain or swelling

Impacted wisdom teeth can be painful. The pain may arise only when chewing or be present at all times. Look in the mirror to see if your jaw is visibly swollen from the outside.

Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth

Bad breath that refuses to go away even after repeated brushing, flossing and gargling can be a sign of infection in your mouth. If the bad breath is coupled with an unpleasant taste, see a dental professional as soon as possible. An infection below the gum line is a potentially serious condition that needs to be treated right away.

Impacted wisdom teeth require extraction

If your dentist confirms that you do have impacted wisdom teeth, they often will recommend they be extracted before they become problematic. If left to continue pushing into your mouth, impacted wisdom teeth may damage nearby teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth typically will be removed by an oral surgeon.