Signs You Need Wisdom Tooth Removal

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars that grow at the back of the gums during the late teens or early twenties. By this time, the first 28 adult teeth are already set in place, so, for many people, the wisdom teeth don’t break through the gums and grow out. They sometimes emerge at a different angle than the rest of the teeth, or they get stuck and only partially come out—a condition called impacted wisdom teeth.

Usually, impacted wisdom teeth do not cause any problems. But since they do not have a specific role in proper chewing and speech functions, many people opt to have them removed to avoid possible shifting and impact on the teeth and jaw alignment. Every year, around 5 million Americans undergo wisdom tooth removal procedures.

In some cases, impacted teeth lead to pain, swelling, tooth decay, damage to nearby teeth, or inflamed gums. This is the reason why oral surgeons and dentists may recommend wisdom tooth removal if these problems are detected or if they see a possibility of these problems happening in the near future. Here are the situations where dentists will not recommend removal:

  • Wisdom teeth are growing in the right position and will not affect the patient’s bite
  • Wisdom teeth are growing in the right position or they are biting properly with the opposing teeth
  • Wisdom teeth are healthy
  • Wisdom teeth have fully emerged
  • Wisdom teeth allow thorough cleaning during the oral hygiene routine

If you have just grown your wisdom teeth and you feel unsure of whether you should have one or some of them removed, this article will aim to guide you on the signs you need to watch out for to avoid problems caused by wisdom teeth.


No more room for the wisdom teeth to grow

When wisdom teeth don’t have enough space to grow properly, they will crowd and potentially damage your neighboring teeth or increase infection risk in the area. Otherwise, they can stay in the back of your mouth to assist your other teeth during chewing and mastication of food.

If the wisdom tooth did not emerge at all, it will become impacted with the jaw, leading to infection and cysts that can damage the jaw bone or the neighboring teeth. Partially emerged wisdom teeth, on the other hand, can attract disease-causing bacteria because they are difficult to clean. Oral infections and gum diseases may also occur.


Pain at the back of the mouth

Pain at the back of the mouth is normally experienced when your wisdom teeth are coming in, but it may also indicate problems. If they emerge in the wrong position or, as previously said, if there is not enough room for growth, wisdom teeth may cause pain.

The pain can be experienced occasionally, or it can be persistent. If home remedies or painkillers are not working, dentists may recommend surgery to remove them.


Inflamed and bleeding gums

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause gum issues that can lead to bleeding and inflammation. For wisdom teeth that only partially emerged, gum flaps may develop. These flaps may trap food and they are difficult to remove during regular brushing of teeth. These then cause bacteria build-up and infection.

When infected, the gums become swollen and may bleed when pressed so brushing and flossing may cause bleeding and pain.


Inflammation and infection in other areas

Unerupted or partially erupted wisdom teeth do not only cause gum issues but also inflammation of the lymph nodes and an increased frequency of sore throats. Signs of inflammation and infection include pus drainage in the mouth.

It is important to see your dentist right away if you are experiencing this because they are difficult to alleviate and often spread to surrounding areas.


Cyst growth around the wisdom tooth

Impacted wisdom teeth may also cause the development of cyst or fluid-filled sac in the jaw bone and soft tissues. It develops on top of an unerupted or partially erupted wisdom teeth. If the cyst is smaller than 2 centimeters in diameter, it will not cause any symptoms but as it grows larger than this size, swelling, tooth sensitivity, and tooth displacement may be experienced. Joint pain may be managed using TMJ treatment options.

You may notice a small bump if you look inside your mouth. If you think you have one, seek your dentist’s advice immedieately because you don’t want it to grow into benign tumor.


Bad breath

Since wisdom teeth erupt in the back of the mouth where cleaning is harder especially if they have only partially erupted. The gaps in partially erupted wisdom teeth are suitable as a breeding ground for bacteria, causing your breath to smell bad. Even if you brushing or floss your teeth twice a day or avoid sugary drinks, you might still have bad breath.


Impact on or damage to other teeth

Wisdom teeth, just like other teeth, can spread bacteria and cavities to the neighboring teeth. This means that if they are infected, they can spread the infection to other teeth or areas of the body. As they make room for growth, they can cause other teeth to move—sometimes in unwanted ways. It can lead to underbite or overbite conditions.

Impaction of wisdom teeth cannot be prevented, but maintaining dental appointments every six months will allow you to have the dentist clean and monitor the emergence of your wisdom teeth.

Many dentists recommend removing wisdom teeth before they fully emerge, so they will not cause further problems. This means that wisdom tooth removal is ideal at a younger age when the tooth and bone are not yet fully formed, so it will be easier and quicker to recover after the surgery.


For more information about wisdom tooth removal, check out Wisdom Tooth Extraction: 7 Facts You Need to Know.