Located at the back of the mouth, wisdom teeth are molars that are usually the last adult teeth to emerge. Most people have four wisdom teeth–two at the top of the mouth and two at the bottom. On average, people get their wisdom teeth between the ages of 17-25. A wisdom tooth is said to be impacted when it is unable to develop normally due to not having enough space at the back of the mouth to form properly. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause serious health concerns. Read on to learn about the symptoms of wisdom teeth coming in.
Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Coming In
1. Damage to Surrounding Teeth
When wisdom teeth emerge properly, they don’t typically cause problems. However, when a wisdom tooth grows in at an awkward angle, this causes pain and pressure not only in the wisdom tooth but also in the surrounding teeth. (also called the second molars) This pressure may cause the second molars to shift out of alignment. Shifting teeth often require orthodontic treatment to straighten them. Or, even worse, the wisdom teeth may damage the second molars and cause them to become infected, which requires immediate treatment from a dentist or oral surgeon.
2. Infected Teeth
When impacted teeth become infected, they cause several distinct symptoms. The patient may have an unpleasant taste in his or her mouth as well as bad breath. Trouble opening the mouth may also develop. The gums become red or swollen and sometimes bleed. Jaw pain and swelling occur. These symptoms do not go away, and should be treated by a healthcare professional.
3. Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
When teeth become too crowded, there is not enough room to clean around the crowded teeth, and gum disease and tooth decay will develop. Symptoms of gum disease include sensitive teeth, loose teeth, receding gums or teeth that appear longer. The gums may also bleed as teeth are brushed or flossed. Gum disease and tooth decay do not improve on their own. In fact symptoms often get worse over time. Both conditions should be treated by a dental professional.
A cyst is a fluid-filled sac. A wisdom tooth develops inside a sac in the jawbone, and sometimes the sac fills with fluid, which forms a cyst. The cyst can cause damage to not just the teeth and the jawbone but damage to nerves as well. In the worst of cases, a noncancerous tumor develops. Symptoms of cysts and tumors include pain and swelling. Cysts and tumors can cause permanent damage to teeth and the jaw bone. When this happens, tissue and bone must be removed.
If a person experiences the above symptoms of wisdom teeth coming in, he or she should contact a dentist immediately. Only a healthcare professional can definitively diagnose the symptoms of wisdom teeth coming in. The dentist will x-ray the mouth and also check the patient’s gums for infection and look for crowding in surrounding teeth.
6. Tooth Removal
Wisdom teeth that have become painful or infected are generally removed. Extraction of these teeth is an outpatient procedure, which means the patient is allowed to go home the same day. Tooth extraction is a two-step process that begins with anesthesia and ends with tooth removal. Anesthesia relaxes the patient and numbs the area around the tooth. If the tooth needs to be pulled, the oral surgeon will most likely allow the patient to stay awake for the procedure. Pulling a wisdom tooth is often no different than pulling any other tooth; it is a simple process and usually does not take very long. However, in cases where the tooth has not broken through the gum line, the dentist will need to make an incision in the gums and cut out the tooth. If the extraction requires cutting or a more complex process to salvage bone, the patient is rendered unconscious.
7. After Tooth Removal
The extraction of wisdom teeth often causes discomfort, especially in cases where the teeth were cut out instead of pulled. Bleeding gums and swelling of the jaw is common. Sometimes the patient will experience light bleeding for as long as 24 hours. Patients are usually instructed to do the following:
- Bite gently on a piece of gauze for several hours;
- Change gauze pads in the mouth when they become blood-soaked;
- Do not lie down flat, as this may prolong bleeding;
- Eat soft foods, such as pudding or soup for the first day or two;
- For the first few days after the extraction, do not drink through a straw;
- Beginning on the day after the extraction, rinse the mouth with warm salt water several times daily;
- Do not smoke during the first 24 hours after dental surgery;
- Use an ice pack on the outside of the cheek for about 15 minutes at a time during the first 24 hours after surgery.
8. Asymptomatic Wisdom Teeth
A wisdom tooth is said to be asymptomatic if it isn’t causing any symptoms or dental problems. In fact, some people’s wisdom teeth come in straight and line up with the other teeth at the back of the mouth, which means the person experiences no symptoms of wisdom teeth coming in. Still, some oral surgeons recommend the removal of asymptomatic wisdom teeth. This is because the presence of these teeth could cause dental trouble in the future. Other dentist and oral surgeons believe it is fine to keep wisdom teeth as long as they’re asymptomatic. They believe in removing wisdom teeth only when problems arise.
A person who experiences the above symptoms of wisdom teeth coming in, such as pain, swelling or bleeding gums, should contact a dentist immediately. Symptoms do not go away on their own, and they must be treated by a healthcare professional.
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