Wisdom teeth are the third molars on either side of your mouth in the very back. They get their name because they are the last teeth to come in, which usually occurs when someone is in their late teens to early twenties. When wisdom erupt, they can sometimes only partially come in or come in crooked and cause painful crowding. Many people choose to have their wisdom teeth taken out before any of these uncomfortable situations arise, most often before 20 years of age when the teeth have less developed roots. However, many people do not have their wisdom teeth removed and may or may not experience any painful sensations.
If you did not have your wisdom teeth removed as a young adult and you were one of the lucky few who didn’t have any trouble with your wisdom teeth, you are not necessarily immune to negative reactions later on in life. Impacted wisdom teeth can happen to anyone with their wisdom teeth still intact, and can become riskier with age.
A deep pain felt in the jaw area is one of the primary symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth. Impaction occurs when a wisdom tooth is coming in, and there isn’t enough room for it to erupt. When this happens, you may feel an intense pain that can start in the jaw, and spread to the skull and result in agonizing headaches. The pain can increase when chewing food. If the pain suddenly shoots to the back of the mouth or into nearby teeth, that’s also a sign of impacted wisdom teeth.
Swelling of the Jaw
The jaw pain from impacted wisdom teeth can also lead to swelling in the jaw area which can extend from the chin to the bottom of the ear. When pain leads to swelling, it is a sign of a more serious impaction and is a possible symptom of an infection or damaged nerves surrounding the tooth. When a wisdom tooth shifts deep in the jaw because it doesn’t have enough room to come up, it disrupts nerve endings that span the entire mouth. If you can easily notice swelling in the jaw area, that is a definite sign you need to see your dentist.
Sore or Bleeding Gums
Jaw pain and swelling affects your entire mouth when it is dealing with impacted wisdom teeth, so it definitely affects the gums as well. Sore gums and gums that easily bleed without much irritation are signs of impacted wisdom teeth. Look inside your mouth and see if you can notice swollen gums in the back of the mouth, as well as tenderness in that area. When gums are continuously stressed, inflamed, and tender, gum disease can develop. Irritated, swollen gums are typically pink, red, blue or purple in color, rolled along the perimeter of the teeth, have a blunted papilla which is the small area between the teeth, bleed when brushing or flossing, and are tender.
Foul Tastes and Smells
Impacted wisdom teeth are a breeding ground for bacteria. This bacteria gets trapped in the soft area of the gums and teeth and grows quickly in dark, damp places. This makes the back of the mouth the perfect place for bacteria and infections to develop. Untreated infections lead to tooth decay and cysts, and they often result in having a bad taste in the mouth as well as bad smelling breath. If you notice bad tastes while eating and friends and family have remarked on your intense bad breath, those are signs there is something wrong with your teeth.
Other less common symptoms include shooting pain in the back of the mouth, swollen glands, difficulty opening the mouth and persistent earaches.
Impacted wisdom teeth won’t just go away on their own. If you experience any of these warning signs, you need to schedule an appointment with your dental practitioner right away. Regular visits to the dentist can spot early signs of impacted teeth with x-rays and can correct them before they become a problem. When left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. And in some rare cases, they can cause cysts and tumors. If you’re currently dealing with severe pain or a swollen jaw, contact the professionals at Infinite Dental Wellness and see if having your wisdom teeth removed can return your life back to normal.