If you’re having problems with your wisdom teeth, don’t ignore them. Pain in your wisdom teeth usually comes from infection, and it’s important to get that infection under control quickly and resolved.
What Are Wisdom Teeth?
Wisdom teeth are third molars. They develop and erupt between the ages of 17 and 25—a period when children become wiser as they grown into adulthood. Pain-free, healthy third molars that completely erupt don’t require any treatment. But problems with third molars are common. Nine out of ten people have at least one wisdom tooth removed.
Why Do They Cause Problems?
Most people don’t have enough room in their mouth for wisdom teeth. This causes the third molars to erupt partially or not at all. Impacted, or trapped, teeth will cause problems that affect your oral health. And you don’t have to be in your teens or 20s to be affected by impacted third molars. It is not uncommon for people in their 30s, 40s, or 50s to experience problems with them.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
A wisdom tooth can be impacted due to its position of growth, limited eruption, or both.
- Mesial: Angled toward the front of your mouth
- Distal: Angled toward the back of your mouth
- Horizontal: Lying on its side
- Vertical: Mostly upright
- Soft tissue: Top portion of the tooth has erupted through the bone, but not completely through the gums
- Partial bony: Most of the tooth is still in the jawbone
- Full bony: The entire tooth is lying in the jawbone
Warning Signs and Symptoms
It is normal to have mild discomfort when teeth erupt. So how do you know if there is a problem with your wisdom teeth? There are several signs and symptoms to watch for.
- Painful, red, or swollen gums – The gum tissue around your teeth can become swollen and sore. It can be difficult to bite down or chew.
- Tender or bleeding gums – It’s difficult to clean around impacted teeth, so bacteria can build up and cause tender or bleeding gums.
- Jaw pain or swelling – Third molars develop in a sac within the jawbone. When a tooth is impacted, the sac can fill with fluid and form a cyst. The cyst and infection can cause pain or swelling and can damage your jawbone, teeth, and nerves.
- Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth – Tooth decay, an abscess, or an infection, breed bacteria and odor that you can taste or smell.
- Difficulty opening your mouth – Swelling occurs as your body tries to fight the infection. As swelling increases, it can be difficult to open your mouth.
- Changes in tooth alignment – Impacted wisdom teeth can grow upright, sideways, or at an angle. If they are left untreated, they will continue to push on other teeth and cause them to shift.
What to Expect with Wisdom Teeth Removal
If you’re having problems with your wisdom teeth, they probably need to be removed. Here’s what you can expect during your visits with us.
- Consultation – We start with a consultation. We will also take digital x-ray images of your wisdom teeth to see their position.
- Pre- and post-operative instructions – Before the date of your surgery, we’ll give you pre- and post-operative instructions. You will need transportation to and from your appointment.
- Your comfort – During surgery, we will use anesthesia to keep you comfortable.
- Length of surgery – Extracting all four wisdom teeth can take an hour to an hour and a half, but the time varies based on the severity of impaction and how many teeth need to be removed.
- Post-op instructions – You will need pain medication to manage post-operative soreness. We’ll discuss your options in advance and ensure you have post-op instructions.
- Smooth recovery – Your recovery should be progressive—you should feel better each day post-operatively. We don’t expect complications, but we’ll give you written details on how to recognize any of these complications:
- Dry socket
- Sensory nerve damage
- Sinus perforation
- Follow-up visits – The extractions sites will be checked to ensure they are healing properly.
Schedule a Wisdom Teeth Consultation
Although many people dread the thought of having their wisdom teeth removed, our board-certified oral surgeons will make your experience comfortable and quick. Call us to schedule a consultation, or complete our Request an Appointment form.
“Dr. Hall was amazing during my son’s wisdom teeth extraction. She came highly recommended by several friends, and we were so pleased with the entire experience. She really took the time to explain everything during our consultation and on surgery day. My son felt very comfortable with her—she has a wonderful way with teens. Her office staff was fantastic—even calling me to refund my account because our insurance misquoted. That normally would have gone unnoticed for months at other offices!” – Samantha D.