Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Symptoms & Causes

An impacted wisdom tooth can cause pain, discomfort and complications for our oral and overall health. In this post, our Edmonton dentists describe symptoms and causes of impacted wisdom teeth and how we can treat this dental emergency.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

The third set of molars at the very back of your mouth are known as wisdom teeth, and they typically emerge in the late teen years or early adulthood. 

Sometimes, a wisdom tooth can become stuck under the gum or will be too crowded by other teeth to erupt through the gum. In these cases, the tooth is considered "impacted" and can leave a person at increased risk for tooth decay, disease and other dental issues. 

What are symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth?

While an impacted wisdom tooth may not trigger pain or other issues in some people, other individuals may experience obvious symptoms that can evolve into a dental emergency. 

A partially impacted wisdom tooth may partly emerge through the gums, with part of the gum still being visible. Food may become trapped in the area and cleaning the tooth can become more challenging. This condition can be very painful for some people. 

The tooth may become infected or cause other problems, including symptoms such as:

  • A foul taste in your mouth 
  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums 
  • Bad breath 
  • Jaw pain or swelling 
  • Problems opening your mouth 

If a wisdom tooth is fully impacted, it may never emerge through the gums. We recommend seeing our Edmonton dentists if any of these symptoms appear, as they may indicate infection. 

What causes impacted wisdom teeth? 

If your jaw doesn't have enough space for your teeth, a wisdom tooth can become impacted. These teeth may also develop at the wrong angle, causing it to become impacted. 

Risk Factors for Impacted Wisdom Teeth 

You may have a higher risk for impacted wisdom teeth if you:

  • Have a small jaw structure 
  • Are between the ages of 17 and 25 

While there's no way to prevent an impacted tooth, practicing good dental hygiene can help you avoid potential issues. 

Can an impacted wisdom tooth cause complications for my oral and overall health?

Left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can cause severe pain that will not stop by itself. This dental emergency can also lead to other dental issues such as crowding and infection. 

In addition to the fact that pain will feel uncomfortable and reduce your quality of life, untreated infection can eventually negatively affect your general health and become a serious issue, leading to ongoing complications. 

How can my dentist diagnose impacted wisdom teeth? 

Your dentist can assess your wisdom teeth by taking a simple X-ray of your mouth, which will reveal whether a tooth is impacted and if other teeth or bones have been damaged. 

If a tooth is impacted, you and your dentist can discuss treatment options, including emergency extraction. 

How are impacted wisdom teeth treated?

If your dentist determines that your impacted wisdom teeth are causing concerning symptoms or dental issues, or constitute a dental emergency, they may suggest an extraction procedure to preserve your oral and overall health. 

Approximately a week after your wisdom teeth are removed, we'll recommend that you come in for a follow-up appointment. During this time, your dentist will examine your mouth to check that everything is healing appropriately. 

Do you suspect you may have an impacted wisdom tooth? Contact our Edmonton dentists right away. We can examine your tooth and recommend treatment options.

Have a dental emergency in Edmonton? We're here on weekends and after hours to help.

Dental emergencies always happen when you least expect them. Our friendly and experienced dental team is on call to assist you when you need us most.

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