As many as 80% of young adults in Europe have wisdom teeth that don’t break through the gum layer. Other teeth may get in the way and stop them from growing up and out. The wisdom tooth may also grow crooked, which causes its own set of problems. 

If a wisdom tooth comes into contact with another tooth, then it is considered impacted. Impacted wisdom teeth removal is a serious operation. Avoiding it can result in pain, tooth damage, and infection. 

Here’s what to know about wisdom teeth removal and how impaction can affect the process.

Types of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

First of all, you’ll need to know about the different levels of impacted teeth and in what ways they can be impacted. 

Non-impacted wisdom teeth are ones that have erupted and are completely visible. Partially impacted teeth have slightly erupted. Finally, fully impacted wisdom teeth are still completely submerged in the gum line. 

The danger of an impacted tooth is that they often grow at an odd angle. That’s why they haven’t erupted at all. However, that puts your mouth at greater risk of tooth infections.

Mesial Impaction

Mesial impactions are the most common type. This happens when the tooth is angled toward the neighboring molar. You’ll often see this one partially erupt through the gums, and whether or not it needs removal depends on the severity of the angle. 

Distal Impaction

Distal impactions are the rarest kind. The wisdom tooth grows opposite the neighboring molar, and the danger is that it will impact with bone. 

Vertical Impaction

Vertical impaction is the best kind due to there being little angle to the wisdom tooth’s growth. It runs almost parallel to your other molar, so they don’t rub or touch one another. This type is also most likely to erupt on its own and fit in the mouth. 

The only problem is that it’s much harder to clean wisdom teeth due to their location. You may suffer from worse oral hygiene if they’re left untouched. 

Horizontal Impaction

The worst kind of tooth impaction is a horizontal one. This is where the wisdom tooth is growing directly into the neighboring molar.

These require skilled oral surgeons to remove them without causing damage. You should also expect a much longer healing time. 

Impacted Wisdom Teeth Removal Process

The process for removing wisdom teeth will change depending on how impacted they are. Generally speaking, you’ll have a much easier experience if the tooth is both fully erupted and vertically impacted. This means that it’s sticking up and out like all of your other teeth. 

A fully exposed tooth is easy to identify and remove without disrupting the neighboring molar. However, it gets more complicated if it’s still below the gum line. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis

So how can you tell that you need a wisdom tooth removed? Aside from getting a scan at your dentist’s office, there are a few different signs that your wisdom teeth are causing problems. 

First of all, you may suffer some kind of pain in the back of your mouth during puberty. This pain can make eating nearly unbearable due to how the tooth is coming in. You may also experience earaches or headaches. 

Your gums will become inflamed and could bleed as the wisdom teeth erupt through your gums. Cysts could form, as well. 

If left unchecked for too long, impacted wisdom teeth could cause your other teeth to become crooked. They could also damage neighboring molars. 

Sedation or Anesthesia

The type of treatment you receive during your impacted wisdom teeth removal will depend on the severity of the problem. 

For example, completely vertical teeth that have erupted can often be pulled like any other tooth. All you’ll need is some local anesthesia to dull the pain. 

More severe procedures may require both anesthesia and sedation. General anesthesia will put you to sleep so that the oral surgeon can operate. Sedation will help lull you into a state of relaxation before the procedure begins. 

Anesthesia can be applied with either gel, a shot, or intravenously. Sedation is usually given in the form of a gas you breathe in through a mask. 

Tooth Removal

Your oral surgeon will need to make an incision in your gum line to access wisdom teeth that have not erupted. They may need to remove some bone that covers the tooth. 

Depending on how impacted it is, the tooth may need to be cut into smaller pieces to remove it. Your oral surgeon will need to rock the tooth to widen the socket and loosen its grip. 

Once the tooth has been removed, they will use dissolving stitches to seal up the wound. These stitches can take up to a couple of weeks to dissolve. 

It’s common to remove multiple wisdom teeth at the same time. The overall procedure can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour based on the type of impaction and how many you’re removing. 

Impacted Wisdom Teeth Removal Recovery

After your oral surgeon has stitched the wounds shut, you’ll leave with gauze in your mouth. You’ll need to bite down on this gauze for up to an hour to allow a blood clot to form. 

Your dentist or oral surgeon should provide instructions on how to care for your mouth while it heals. 

On the day of the procedure, you must avoid rinsing or spitting. Any medication should also be taken the day after. 

Try to stick to liquids or very soft foods for the first few days after the procedure. Avoid using straws, as the sucking motion can dislocate the blood clot. You should also stay away from hot or spicy foods. 

Swollen gums and pain are normal. Apply an ice pack to your lower jaw in the days following your procedure. 

Safeguard Your Smile

Wisdom teeth may not seem like a problem until you start to suffer from some serious jaw pain. Unfortunately, these particular teeth cause problems for most people. Impacted wisdom teeth removal is essential if you want to avoid jaw infections or worse. 

Jenkins, Morrow & Gayheart provides quality dental care in both Lexington and London, KY. Our services include wisdom tooth removal, dental implants, bone grafting, and more. Contact us to schedule your next appointment.