Wisdom Teeth: What’s the Deal?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, typically emerge in a person’s late teens to early twenties. More often than not, these teeth present problems and need to be surgically removed. Let’s take a look at some specifics so you know what to watch for!

What does it mean if my wisdom teeth are impacted?

Wisdom teeth are fully impacted if they remain completely below the gumline. Teeth can also be partially impacted if they only partially erupt. When wisdom teeth are impacted they may grow in at an angle or stay trapped within the jawbone.

What problems can arise when my wisdom teeth are impacted?

  • The nature of molars makes them difficult to reach with a toothbrush and floss. This can be particularly problematic when it comes to wisdom teeth since they reside in the very back of your mouth. Partially impacted wisdom teeth are not only hard to reach with a toothbrush and floss but food and bacteria can easily become trapped between the wisdom teeth and the gum tissue, leading to tooth decay or gum disease.
  • When impacted wisdom teeth move, they can put pressure on neighboring teeth and cause discomfort and damage. This pressure can also lead to crowding of teeth and cause misalignment, necessitating orthodontic treatment.
  • In rare cases, a cyst can form around the tooth and cause damage to the jawbone, teeth and nerves.

Symptoms that my wisdom teeth are causing problems

While impacted wisdom teeth don’t always cause symptoms, these are some common symptoms they may cause:

  • Tender, swollen, bleeding gums
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Jaw pain and difficulty opening your mouth
  • Headaches or ear aches
  • Unpleasant taste in your mouth/bad breath

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recommend regular six-month recare visits as a preventative way to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. We also closely monitor wisdom teeth activity with x-rays and watch for signs that they may need to be removed. If you’re concerned about your wisdom teeth, call to schedule a recare visit with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at 651.482.8412!