Symptoms that may indicate you need your wisdom teeth removed
Sooner or later, most people will need to get their wisdom teeth removed. It might just be a matter of time before you need to get your own taken out – but how do you know when to say goodbye to those pesky teeth? Often it is a dentist who will decide when you need to get them extracted, by looking at x-rays to determine whether they will cause problems or are at risk of decay.
But first, it is important to know the warning signs of a troublesome wisdom tooth so you can identify the issue as early as possible. Here’s some of the main symptoms to look out for that could signal it is time to see your dentist and have them removed.
What are Wisdom Teeth?
Your wisdom teeth are the teeth found at the back of your gums often referred to as your third molars. Most adults have 32 teeth, including 4 wisdom teeth, one in each corner of your mouth and are the last adult teeth to come through, if they come through at all.
They normally grow through (erupt) during the late teens or early 20s and can often cause issues because there’s simply not enough room in the mouth for them to come in properly. Due to the lack of space the teeth can come through at an angle or only partially through the gum. This is what is known as impacted wisdom teeth and more often than not are the wisdom teeth that need to be removed.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, damage to other teeth and other dental problems, including overcrowding of the existing teeth and impaction, either into the neighbouring teeth or into the gum. However, not all wisdom teeth will cause immediate problems and even if they are impacted it might be painless.
Signs & Symptoms
When your wisdom teeth come through, it is usually accompanied by some discomfort. There are a number of side effects that would make it necessary to have your wisdom teeth removed. Here are some of the signs and symptoms you may experience that can be problematic until the tooth is extracted:
Persistent Pain & Infection
One of the most noticeable signs that you need your wisdom teeth taken out is the pain and irritation both at the tooth site and when you open your mouth. Your wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 21, making them the last to emerge in your mouth and therefore the most common teeth to become wedged-in or impacted. As there is not enough room in the jaw or mouth for them to emerge, instead of coming in straight they can come in sideways, tilted or misaligned in the jaw, pressing up against the teeth in front of it.
An impacted tooth can be painless and you may not even realise that it is there, however when it tries to erupt, the overlying gum may swell and cause pain, which may be felt in nearby teeth or the area on that side. This pain may occur for several days and then disappear for weeks or months before returning. But typically, the pain increases the longer you leave them untreated.
A partially erupted tooth can then collect food, plaque and other debris, which can lead to gum swelling, tooth decay and an infection called pericoronitis. Pericoronitis is an infection wherein bacteria from food, plaque and other debris becomes trapped in between the space of the impacted tooth and the gum. If untreated, this infection can spread toward the throat or into the neck.
Stiffness in Jaw & Swollen Gums
As your wisdom teeth come in, they can push against your other teeth and make them move. This in turn can cause discomfort in your jaw, so it feels stiff, sore and difficult to open. This can also cause swelling of both the gum in the back of the mouth or on the side of the jaw.
Red and swollen gums are caused by the flap of extra of gum tissue which resides next to the tooth as a result of the wisdom teeth partially erupting. As mentioned above, this infection is known as pericoronitis and is caused when particles of food and bacteria get trapped in the tissue and become infected and inflamed over time because it is difficult to clean.
Wisdom teeth can also lead to gum disease at the back of the mouth. Some signs of gum disease and/or infection includes:
- Tender and bleeding gums
- Pain and swelling
- Pus coming from the gum
- The lymph glands under the jaw becoming swollen and sore
- Difficult to open the mouth and swallow
Cysts & Cavities
If wisdom teeth are ignored, they can cause cysts and other benign (harmless) jaw tumours, which is a sack of fluid that gets accumulated and will infect the area nearby. As a result, it will damage the roots of your nearby teeth. This can lead to bone destruction – however this is rare.
Impacted teeth can also cause problems such as cavities and tooth decay. If they push on the neighbouring molar, this can lead to tooth movement, which leaves gaps and spaces between our teeth that cannot be easily cleaned while brushing. As a result, they have the potential to collect food and bacteria, which eventually can cause cavities in your teeth.
Sinus Issues & Eating Difficulty
You may be able to tell if your wisdom teeth are coming through if you experience sinus pain, congestion and pressure, especially in the upper jaw area. The growth of teeth and development of its roots can push against the sinuses located right above and behind. Due to this pressure, it can cause headaches and sinus pain.
Misalignment due to your wisdom teeth can also make it difficult to open and close your mouth. As a result, you may experience pain while chewing or biting. Another sign your wisdom teeth are coming through is bad breath and an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Wisdom Teeth Removal at St John Dental
If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms it may be associated with an impacted wisdom tooth and you should visit your dentist. He or she will examine the area and take x-rays if needed to see where your wisdom teeth are and if they are impacted. If the wisdom teeth are indeed problematic, they may need to be extracted.
At St John Dental, we provide an effective wisdom teeth removal service. If they don’t need to be removed, we will tell you, but if they do, our professional and caring team of experienced St John Dental practitioners will make the process of removing your wisdom teeth as pain free as possible.
Don’t let your wisdom teeth impact on your health. Remember, prevention is better than cure. If you think you need your wisdom teeth removed, contact your nearest St John Dentist today and let us take a look.