The fate of your wisdom teeth can be virtually impossible to determine on your own. Even when the teeth are not causing discomfort, the potential complications can be numerous. Your oral surgeon is the only dental specialist who can diagnose the state of your wisdom teeth and perform the appropriate comfortable treatment when necessary.
A common condition associated with the wisdom teeth is known as impaction. Impacted wisdom teeth are categorized based on their position in the jawbone. For example, a tooth that is completely submerged in the jawbone is known as a full bony impaction. When the impacted wisdom tooth has grown above the upper border of the jawbone but is still covered by any gum tissue, the condition is called a soft tissue impaction.
Not all soft tissue impactions are the same. The wisdom tooth may be partially or completely covered by gum tissue. When the wisdom tooth is not able to fully erupt through the surface of the gums, the tissue surrounding the tooth can cover a portion of the biting surface. This flap of tissue, called an operculum, can be tough to clean, harbors bacteria and often causes the gums to become infected.
Pericoronitis (infected gum tissue around the wisdom tooth) is a common infection that can occur as the result of a soft tissue impaction. The condition often includes swelling, redness, a bad smell or taste, and pain extending to the lower jaw and neck. When left untreated, pericoronitis can advance to become a more severe infection.
Your wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that typically require attention during your late teens or early twenties. Unfortunately, these teeth are rarely an asset and it is more likely that they will present an oral health challenge and require surgical removal.
If you suspect that your wisdom teeth are impacted into the gum tissue or the underlying bone, schedule an appointment with the wisdom tooth experts at ORA, Drs. Steven Koos DDS, MD and Brian Shah DDS, MD, today for a professional evaluation.