Statistics from the American Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) indicates that 9 out of 10 people suffer from at least one impacted wisdom tooth. An impacted wisdom tooth is one that is unable to erupt from the gum due to its contrary position or lack of space in the jaw.
Causes of impacted wisdom teeth
Wisdom teeth are your third molars. They grow at the very back of the mouth and typically don't have adequate room to flourish in most cases because of the insufficient room to accommodate all of the teeth. For this reason, they may be positioned sideways or become crooked, which makes them unable to surface as they normally should.
While impacted wisdom teeth can be completely pain-free, it is more common that they are a source of significant pain. The following are a few symptoms which indicate that you could be suffering from an impacted wisdom tooth:
- Jaw or wisdom-tooth pain
- Swelling on the gum or around the jaw
- Bad breath
- Dental crowding
- Tooth or gum infections
If the wisdom tooth does not cause the above symptoms, the only way a dentist can establish whether it is impacted is through an X-ray.
Problems caused by impacted wisdom teeth can include:
- While the roots of the impacted tooth continue to grow, the crown attempts to erupt by butting against the second molars, creating pressure on them. This often results in overcrowding or other structural problems.
- Gum infections are common in the case where the impacted tooth has already broken through the gum line. Due to the inability to effectively clean and floss the tooth to rid it of trapped food particles and plaque, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria which can ultimately lead to gum infection, tooth decay and other periodontal diseases.
- Cysts can form as a result of impacted wisdom teeth causing damage to the nerves, the roots of neighboring teeth, and to the jawbone.
- The bacteria from the impacted tooth could get into your bloodstream and adversely affect your heart’s health. It is also associated with other health conditions such as throat cancer, respiratory diseases and other health conditions.
- Impacted wisdom teeth also cause a stiff jaw, pain and abscess.