If you’re experiencing throbbing pain at the back of your mouth or sensitivity when eating hot or cold foods, your wisdom teeth may be to blame – and you’re not alone. You don’t have to live with the pain of an impacted wisdom tooth. We’ve put together this handy guide to help you decide if a wisdom tooth extraction is right for you.

Reasons for Removing Wisdom Teeth

Pain. One of the driving factors in seeing a dentist for a wisdom teeth removal procedure is pain. Wisdom teeth hurt for a multitude of reasons. The most common are: impacted wisdom teeth, insufficient spacing, inflammation, and infection.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Why do we have wisdom teeth if they cause so many problems?” We have wisdom teeth to help us chew food. But over time, human jaws became smaller, making it harder for wisdom teeth to grow. Our foods are easier to chew now, so there’s really no need for third molars. 

Wisdom teeth can erupt without issue for some people. Others require wisdom tooth removal to alleviate problems with eating, drinking, or speaking. Here are a few additional reasons for having a procedure to remove wisdom teeth.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth — also called third molars — are the last teeth to grow. Most people develop these teeth before the age of 25. Like the surrounding molars, wisdom teeth can erupt without a problem. In some instances, they don’t have enough room to grow, resulting in an impacted wisdom tooth. Impacted wisdom teeth never fully erupt and are only partially visible – if visible at all. It’s hard to determine if you’ll have issues with an impacted wisdom tooth, so your dentist may monitor your wisdom teeth with dental imaging. An extraction is an option for impacted wisdom teeth that cause pain.

Common symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth are:

  • difficulty opening your mouth
  • inflamed gums
  • bad breath
  • facial swelling

Insufficient Space

When there’s not enough room for your wisdom tooth to erupt, it changes position to accommodate growth, which results in angled or horizontal expansion. A ‘sideways’ wisdom tooth threatens nearby nerves, bones, and teeth. If it continues to grow towards your other molars, the pressure could create misalignment of the adjacent teeth (malocclusion). 

Persistent Pain

Poorly managed wisdom teeth wreak havoc under the gumline. Impacted wisdom teeth cause persistent pain when they bump into surrounding structures. Persistent wisdom teeth pain can radiate to surrounding teeth, your jawbone, or your face making it impossible to eat or drink. Let your dentist know if you’re experiencing persistent wisdom teeth pain.

Infection     

A partially erupted wisdom tooth leaves an open cavity. Since you can’t clean the inside of this cavity, bacteria from food and drink become trapped. A dark, moist area is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to multiply, resulting in an infected wisdom tooth. Untreated, this infection could spread to nearby tissue and jawbones. In rare cases, the infection enters your bloodstream, increasing the risk of a serious blood infection called sepsis. According to Health Direct, this is a medical emergency.

Symptoms Which Suggest You May Need Wisdom Teeth Removal

Some people have impacted wisdom teeth that cause little to no wisdom teeth pain. When they become infected, you may experience one of the following symptoms, until you have a procedure for wisdom teeth removal.

Pain and Sensitivity at the Back of Your Mouth

Bacteria like streptococcus mutants live on the surface of your teeth, feeding on sugar you ingest. As these bacteria process the sugar, they excrete acids that eat through your enamel. Regular brushing and good oral hygiene keep them at bay. Since you cannot brush your impacted wisdom tooth, these acids continue to break through the enamel until it leaves a cavity. This form of tooth decay causes wisdom teeth pain and sensitivity over time. The only way to treat wisdom teeth pain is with a wisdom teeth removal procedure.

Gum Inflammation

A partially erupted wisdom tooth attracts bacteria and increases the risk of infection. When the wisdom tooth becomes infected, your immune system sends out white blood cells to irradicate it. This chronic immune response results in inflammation. Until you have a procedure for wisdom teeth removal, this inflammation continues.  

Bad Breath and/or Strange Taste in Your Mouth

Once your wisdom tooth becomes infected, you may notice a foul taste or odour. This is caused by infected fluid leaving the open dental cavity and entering your mouth. A procedure for wisdom teeth removal extracts the infected tooth allowing the area to heal.

Stiff Jaw or Persistent Pain

If you have pain when you speak, a constant sore jaw, or difficulty opening your mouth – your wisdom tooth is to blame. Sometimes, an impacted wisdom tooth grows into your jawbone resulting in inflammation and infection. An infected jawbone will continue to hurt until you have the wisdom tooth extracted.

Sinus Problems Such as Pain, Headache, Congestion, and Pressure

Impacted wisdom teeth may settle anywhere under your gums — including your sinuses. This puts pressure on your sinuses leading to congestion and sinus pain. A wisdom teeth removal procedure removes the offending tooth resolving the sinus pressure. 

Summary

Wisdom teeth don’t need to be removed routinely, but if they’re impacted, there’s a great benefit in having them extracted. Gum inflammation, wisdom teeth pain, and repeated abscesses don’t have to be part of your future. Contact our dentist to have your wisdom teeth checked today. Our team of skilled dentists is ready to help you smile again – without the pain.

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