Wisdom Tooth Removal: What Happens When You Ignore Impacted Teeth For Long?
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Well, the unfortunate news is that 9 out of 10 people will have at least one impacted wisdom tooth requiring removal. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at wisdom teeth – what are they exactly and what happens if you leave them untreated.
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the very last teeth in the jaw to develop, and are located in the back most part of your mouth. These teeth often appear during what has been called the “Age of Wisdom”; that time of life between the ages of 17 and 25 years old.
Looking back in our human history, wisdom teeth didn’t give us the hassles they do today. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors primarily ate a diet of raw vegetables and meat which required large, strong jaws to chew – their third row of molars were helpful! Then, with the emergence of agricultural farming practices, our diets changed significantly. Early farmers had a much softer diet of cooked foods that didn’t demand as much chewing strength. Our skull and jaw sizes responded to these dietary changes by getting smaller. But while our jaws got smaller, our teeth size and number did not similarly decrease. So now most of us are left with the unfortunate situation of having relatively small jaws that just don’t have the room needed to best accommodate our wisdom teeth.
We’re not all built the same, and truthfully some jaws can still accommodate wisdom teeth just fine. In these relatively few cases, wisdom teeth can “erupt” (that is, come completely through the gum) without any pain, disease, or other dental problems. In these cases, your oral surgeons may not recommend immediate extraction, but rather will recommend strongly that you stick to regular check-ups and cleanings with your dentist, that you maintain excellent oral hygiene practices at home, and receive periodic x-rays to evaluate the ongoing health of your wisdom teeth.
When a wisdom tooth doesn’t fully erupt through the gums, it is called an ”impacted” tooth. An impacted tooth is one that is unable to fully enter into the mouth through the gums because there just isn’t enough room. An impacted tooth can cause a whole host of problems, including:
- Difficulty maintaining adequate brushing, which can lead to tooth decay and infection.
- Damage to neighboring teeth.
- Pain from pressure of the tooth overcrowding.
- Systematic infections and illnesses that can affect the heart, kidneys and other organs when oral bacteria travels from the mouth into the bloodstream.
- Fluid-filled cysts or tumors can form that can lead to hollowing of the jaw and damage to surrounding nerves.
When Your Dentist Recommends Extraction
It’s imperative that you see a professional dentist for your impacted wisdom tooth. He or she can let you know when extraction would best be completed. You don’t want to wait to see a dentist when it comes to impacted wisdom teeth.
Impacted wisdom teeth are essentially trapped inside your jawbone. Leaving them alone could mean incurring jaw pain or even complications that would make extraction more difficult. If there are complications during your extraction, not only could the procedure be more expensive, your recovery time could take longer.
Signs to look out for with impacted wisdom teeth include pain, swelling, bleeding, or bad breath, which could mean you have an infection. Your dentist or oral surgeon can help you decide when the best time to extract your impacted wisdom tooth is.
Impacted wisdom teeth are more than just nuisances that you need to get out. They can cause some major problems if left alone, even if there’s only one of them. If you’ve had any previous orthodontic work done, impacted wisdom teeth can ruin it.
These wisdom teeth can push against your rows of teeth, making them crowd together and pushing them forward. Teeth can quickly become misaligned and you may even need a second set of braces after the removal if you wait too long.
Thank you for reading this article, and check back frequently for other dental health articles. Should you have any questions, please contact Apple Tree Dental today!
Article compiled by Apple Tree Dental