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Wisdom teeth and the risk of gum disease

If you have impacted wisdom teeth, your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend extraction as the best long-term treatment option. This is due, in part, to the role impacted wisdom teeth play in gum disease. Even if your impacted wisdom teeth are not bothering you, extracting them as a precautionary measure is often your safest bet for avoiding future complications.

Why do impacted wisdom teeth cause gum disease?

Wisdom teeth are located at the back of your mouth. When they are impacted, it is very difficult to keep this area clean of bacteria, even with proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing. The longer this bacteria remains in your mouth, the more likely it is that you will develop one or more kinds of gum disease.

Types of gum disease

Two common gum diseases caused by impacted wisdom teeth are gingivitis and pericoronitis.

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue caused by plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on teeth and contains bacteria. Too much plaque can produce toxins that irritate the gums.

Pericoronitis is a condition often instigated by gum tissue growing over a wisdom tooth that has become impacted and cannot fully erupt. Pericoronitis is an inflammation of this gum tissue.

Related problems

In addition to the risk of gum disease, impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to the following oral health concerns:

  • Infections and abscesses
  • Cysts
  • Discomfort
  • Tooth decay
  • Damage to surrounding teeth
  • Surrounding teeth moving out of alignment

Wisdom tooth extraction

Wisdom tooth extraction is a common procedure that will eliminate the risk of gum disease from impaction. Typically, most impacted wisdom teeth will be extracted by an oral surgeon and not your dentist, depending on the position of your teeth and other factors.