If you’re struggling with an impacted wisdom tooth, you likely understand the pain and discomfort it can cause. From aching in the gums and jaw to complications with dental hygiene, wisdom tooth impaction is often the culprit for numerous issues.
Last month, we discussed the symptoms of an impacted wisdom tooth. To recap, people with one or more impactions often experience:
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Bad-smelling breath
- A bad taste in the mouth that won’t go away after brushing
- Pain in the jaw
- Complications when opening the mouth
These symptoms are only a side effect of the deeper problems caused by an impacted tooth. Today, we’re looking at the root issues of wisdom tooth impaction to find out where these symptoms stem from.
An impacted wisdom tooth can grow in a way that causes it to push against the adjacent tooth, or the second molar. Teeth need room to develop properly, but an impaction leads to pressure against neighboring teeth, which could result in tooth damage.
Tooth crowding is also possible with an impaction. The impacted tooth pushes neighboring teeth out of alignment, which could cause a domino effect across the jaw. Any affected teeth become either twisted, misaligned, or both, creating discomfort in the gums, teeth roots, and jaws. It can also become difficult to maintain good dental hygiene.
Decay is most common with partially impacted wisdom teeth, or teeth that have only slightly broken through the gum’s surface. Because of the partial eruption, it’s easier for food particles and bacteria to find their way in between the tooth and gums. Plus, a partial wisdom tooth is more difficult to care for properly. As a result, cavities may develop on the teeth, while painful infections may develop in the gums.
Oral cysts can develop within the jawbone due to an impacted wisdom tooth. Each wisdom tooth grows within a sac of tissue in the jawbone. If a tooth is impacted, it can cause that sac to fill with fluid and create a troublesome cyst.
These growths can become painfully infected and swollen. They can even create structural damage to the surrounding teeth, jawbone, and nerves. Oral cysts should be removed via surgery before they can lead to further damage.
Wisdom-tooth-induced gum disease, formally known as pericoronitis, causes painful inflammation in the gums around the impacted tooth. This is most often a result of partially irrupted wisdom teeth as the gum openings are more exposed to bacteria. If untreated, the infection can spread beyond the gums and into the jaw, cheeks, and even the neck.