How to Know if Your Wisdom Teeth Are Becoming a Problem
If you ask around, you’re likely to find that a good portion of your friends and family have had their wisdom teeth removed.
This process typically happens between the ages of 16 and 21, when we theoretically begin to grow “wiser” (yes, that really is where wisdom teeth get their name). It’s also around your late teens and early twenties that those “third molars” actually begin to erupt, or break through the gums and begin to grow visible in your mouth, which makes them impossible to ignore since these brand new teeth can cause overcrowding of the rest of your teeth, are generally useless since they’re typically underdeveloped, and, in most cases, can become painfully “stuck” in the gums if left untreated.
This is why most dentists recommend removing these “evolutionary relics” when you’re younger and the bones in your mouth are still relatively soft, before they can cause further dental issues.
With that being said, a significant number of people leave their wisdom teeth untreated in their youth because, well, they haven’t had the need to do so! Their wisdom teeth never grew out at all or, in other cases, they grew out just fine, assuming that these people’s jaws had enough space to accommodate them alongside their other teeth (this is not typically the case).
Some people go their entire lives without getting their wisdom teeth removed. Perhaps you’re one such person.
If you aren’t, you’re not alone: It’s not uncommon for one’s wisdom teeth to erupt later in life and become impacted, a state in which your jaw bone or neighboring teeth blocks your wisdom teeth from growing out and traps them in your gums even as they elongate. It’s also not uncommon for people with grown-out wisdom teeth to begin experiencing negative symptoms, such as cavities and gum disease, especially since these teeth are so difficult to reach, brush, and floss.
Leaving symptomatic wisdom teeth untreated can cause serious oral problems that may eventually affect your overall health. Here are some signs that your wisdom teeth, in one way or another, are becoming problematic.
Signs Your Wisdom Teeth are Coming In and Getting Impacted
Neither the experience of your wisdom teeth erupting nor getting impacted is a very pleasant one.
As your wisdom teeth start peeking out from beneath your gums, you may experience the following symptoms:
- A gradually increasing pain at the back of the mouth, behind the molars.
- Redness, swelling, and tenderness in the gums surrounding the wisdom teeth.
- Infection in the eruption site, causing pain, irritation, swelling, redness, foul breath, and a bad taste upon chewing food.
Now, if your wisdom teeth are impacted, these symptoms, especially the pain and the risk of infection, become more severe and difficult to ignore. If left untreated, your impacted wisdom teeth may lead to the following more intensive problems:
- Difficulty eating and chewing.
- Incorrect or crooked growth and alignment of the rest of your teeth.
- A cyst that forms around the teeth, which can destroy bones, roots, and surrounding teeth and grow into a tumor that requires surgery to remove.
- Sinus issues, including headaches and congestion, caused by the impacted teeth continuing to grow and placing pressure on the sinus nerves.
- Cavities in the surrounding teeth.
- Inflamed gums.
- Overall illness as a result of unresolved infections.
Whether you have all four of your wisdom teeth (one in each quadrant) or you only have some of them, these symptoms are difficult to endure for long. Furthermore, if left untreated, poor oral health will have reverberating consequences on your general wellbeing: Studies have shown that oral infection and sickness may contribute to other diseases including endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, and pneumonia.
Signs Your Grown-In Wisdom Teeth are Becoming Problematic
Dentists generally believe that if your wisdom teeth have come in just fine and have caused no major problems by age 35, they can be left alone.
However, if you have trouble keeping your wisdom teeth clean and are now experiencing some of the following symptoms, it may be time to consult a dentist:
- Swelling, tenderness, and bleeding in the gums surrounding the wisdom teeth.
- Jaw pain or swelling of the jaw or jaw joint.
- Persistent cavities on the wisdom teeth.
- Dark red or white spots on the wisdom teeth.
- Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth when chewing.
- Difficulty eating, biting, or opening your mouth.
Your dentist may offer you several treatment options, including filling the wisdom teeth and extractions. Deciding what works best for your teeth, mouth, age, and lifestyle requires further discussion.
Getting an Expert Opinion
So far, we’ve talked about symptoms that will help you know that your wisdom teeth require the attention of a dental professional.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that many people whose wisdom teeth are just coming in, young or not-so-young, can’t tell if they are impacted since they only experience mild or no symptoms at all. The only way to know for sure if your wisdom teeth are impacted and to take proactive action is to have a dentist take x-rays and evaluate the growth and trajectory of your wisdom teeth.
Dr. Carrie Muzny DDS and her dental team are here to help. Serving The Woodlands, Benders Landing, Woodforest, Spring, and the Conroe/Montgomery area, we will help you understand the current state of your wisdom teeth, what remedial actions and treatments are required (if any), and how to maintain the health and look of all your pearly whites.
If your wisdom teeth are bothering you, visit us today and receive personalized, top-of-the-line care from our seasoned dental professionals!