Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are present at the far back of our upper and lower dental arches, normally one in each quadrant – and a total of four in an adult oral cavity. These molars however, get mentioned a lot more than other teeth in the mouth. This is because they are the very last to erupt (between 17 and 27 years of age) and often get impacted due to lack of space in the arches. Impaction means that the tooth cannot erupt normally in the jaw because another tooth is hindering its path, in this case, the adjacent second molar. Impacted wisdom teeth must therefore be extracted because they can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort to the patient.
Some of the most common symptoms of third molar impaction include, tenderness and swelling of the gum that covers the crown, Pericoronitis, limited mouth opening, pain and bleeding, inability to chew food from, or clean the affected side, and bad breath. In addition, the impacted tooth also causes structural damage to the neighbouring tooth. It is important to understand however, that not all wisdom teeth are problematic – some may find ample space to erupt normally in the arches and therefore do not need dental attention. The positioning of the wisdom teeth below the gums can be determined with the help of full-mouth radiographs before they begin to erupt, so our dentists at Theresa Frank DDS can plan the treatment accordingly.