Wisdom teeth are the last molars to arrive, positioned in the very back of the mouth. In most cases, there is simply not enough room to accommodate them. This causes them to become impacted. If they are not extracted, impacted teeth can cause widespread infection.
Why Do Wisdom Teeth Become Impacted?
Wisdom teeth, also known as the third molars, arrive in our late teens to our early twenties. They’re called wisdom teeth because they appear in the mouth as we cross into adulthood. However, most people don’t have room for them and have to have them removed.
Because there’s not enough room in the mouth, many wisdom teeth become impacted. This means that they cannot emerge from the gums. Sometimes they are positioned the wrong way—horizontally, or slanted toward another tooth that blocks their path through the gums. Sometimes they can’t emerge just because of the lack of space.
Why is it Important to Remove an Impacted Tooth?
When a tooth becomes impacted, it usually also becomes infected. The tissue around the tooth becomes inflamed, then swollen as more serious infection sets in. Pus can develop both inside the tooth and around the tooth roots. The infection, as well as the bacteria that cause it, can eventually affect the gum tissue, neighboring teeth, and the jawbone. In some cases, infection can become serious enough to move into the sinuses or even into the brain. If left untreated, an impacted tooth can actually be fatal.
If you experience symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth, see your dentist as soon as possible. If the tooth has emerged partially from the gums, you might be able to have a simple extraction in the dentist’s office. However, if the tooth is still beneath the gums, you’ll need to have an oral surgeon remove it. Don’t ignore symptoms of an impacted tooth. See your oral surgeon before the infection has a chance to spread and cause serious problems.
To reserve an appointment, call 703-425-5010 today.