Impacted Wisdom Teeth


Adults develop a total of 32 teeth. 28 of these teeth are fully erupted by around the age of 13. The last four do not erupt until your late teens or early 20s. While these third molars, commonly known as the wisdom teeth, are the last to erupt, they are the most likely to become impacted. When the wisdom teeth are impacted, they can cause significant complications, including severe pain that makes even moving your mouth difficult. At Westlake Oral and Plastic Surgery, we can help to restore the health of your mouth and alleviate your pain with wisdom tooth extractions.

Issues Caused by Impacted Wisdom Teeth


While some individuals do not experience any issues with their wisdom teeth, the teeth emerging just like any other adult tooth, for many more these four teeth can be quite problematic. Wisdom teeth are the most likely teeth to become impacted. This means that the teeth cannot properly erupt, or erupt at all, through the gum tissue. Your wisdom teeth may not have enough room for proper eruption, they may be blocked, or they may be growing sideways rather than vertically. When impacted, the wisdom teeth can cause several significant complications, including:
•  Localized infections. A partially emerged wisdom tooth creates a difficult to clean space that easily traps food particles and bacteria. This can lead to a localized infection known as pericornitis.
•  Cysts. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms, often as the result of an infection. Over time, cysts grow in size, damaging your jawbone. If a cyst goes untreated for too long, it can lead to the need for a bone graft.
•  Overcrowding. If there is not enough space in your jawbone to accommodate your newly emerging wisdom teeth, the wisdom teeth can put pressure on other teeth, forcing them out of alignment. This can ultimately lead to an overcrowded smile.
•  Damage to your other teeth. If your wisdom teeth are growing sideways toward your other teeth, the crowns of the wisdom teeth can make contact with the roots of those teeth. As the pressure increases, your teeth can become damaged. This damage can lead to the need for tooth extractions.

How Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth Diagnosed?


A common symptom that something is wrong with your wisdom teeth is pain in the back of the jaw. This pain can interfere with your ability to eat, or even move your mouth at all. If you suspect that something is wrong with your wisdom teeth, it is important to call and schedule an appointment right away.

Diagnosing impacted wisdom teeth requires a thorough oral exam. During this exam, we visually inspect your mouth, checking for signs of your wisdom teeth as well as signs of swelling. We also take x-rays of your mouth. These images will enable us to see the positions of your wisdom teeth and if there are any cysts or bone loss present. After diagnosis, we can then formulate a treatment plan.

Treating Impacted Wisdom Teeth


The most effective way to treat wisdom teeth is with an extraction. There are two ways an extraction is done, a simple extraction or a surgical extraction. Simple extractions involve moving the tooth back and forth to widen the periodontal ligaments so that the tooth can be lifted free from the socket. With impacted wisdom teeth, however, surgical extractions are most frequently required.
A surgical extraction is performed when the teeth pose greater complications, such as tooth impaction. After a local anesthetic, and sedation if necessary, incisions are made in your gums. This provides us with access to the wisdom teeth, their roots, and the surrounding bone. We are then able to remove the tooth. This may involve removing bone or sectioning the tooth and removing it in pieces. After the wisdom teeth are removed, the areas are cleaned, and your gums are stitched closed.

When your wisdom teeth are impacted, the best solution is to extract them. In doing so, we can improve your oral health and alleviate the severe pain that they are causing you. For more information on impacted wisdom teeth and to schedule your consultation call Westlake Oral and Plastic Surgery at (805) 267-9766 today.
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