Wisdom teeth, often called third molars, are the last teeth to develop in our mouths. While some wisdom teeth are able to form fully and have room in the mouth, many people find that their wisdom teeth are impacted, or, not able to fully come through the gums and have a place in the mouth. As a result of this, they’re often removed. What problems can impacted wisdom teeth cause if not removed?
When your wisdom teeth are impacted, they can’t emerge through the gums because they often have nowhere to go. At the age your wisdom teeth come in (usually in the latter teenage years, or, around twenty years of age), your other teeth are set in their places and will not move easily. The impacted wisdom teeth can come in at odd angles and disturb the neighboring teeth, namely your second molars. Impacted wisdom teeth can also be responsible for crowding, which can cause crooked teeth. Crooked teeth have more problems than just affecting the aesthetic value of your smile—they can be difficult to brush and floss, therefore missing vital areas where plaque and bacteria can grow, and they can even cause an improper bite, meaning it will affect the way you chew food and could even lead to teeth grinding.
Ruin Orthodontic Work
At the age your wisdom teeth come in, you’ve likely had orthodontic work done, meaning any problems with your teeth have been corrected and your smile looks great. Impacted wisdom teeth are not good news when it comes to your completed orthodontic work! As a result of their impacted nature, the teeth can affect both your upper and lower rows of teeth by pushing on your teeth and making all of your teeth move, therefore ruining your orthodontic work. It’s best to get impacted wisdom teeth removed before they cause too much damage in your mouth, and you may even need more orthodontic work if you let them go for too long. Your orthodontic work likely cost you time, money, and some painful adjustments—don’t let your impacted wisdom teeth ruin all of that!
Problems with Adjacent Teeth
When your impacted wisdom teeth begin to come in, they’ll likely cause problems with your neighboring teeth. As they develop, they’ll create limited space between your second molars and themselves. This creates more room for plaque and bacteria to grow, and can even lead to cavities and tooth decay in that area. Third molars are often located so far back in the mouth that they can be difficult to properly brush in the first place, but having impacted third molars (wisdom teeth) on your second set of molars can create problems. In addition to the movement they’ll create as a result of pushing, you’re more at risk for cavities and other problems back there as your impacted wisdom teeth continue to develop.
Although impacted wisdom teeth can overcrowd your smile, you don’t have to suffer the impact! Your dentist can help determine whether or not your wisdom teeth are impacted and talk with you about treatment. Impacted wisdom teeth often need to be removed to help prevent further damage to your smile, but this is a common procedure that requires minimal healing time.