Most wisdom teeth begin to appear when you approximately 18 years old. If they start to erupt and then stop, you may not have enough room in your mouth for them to fully push into place. Because they're the last of your permanent teeth, they may also grow in at an awkward angle. This is an impaction.
When your mouth is too small to accommodate all your teeth, the wisdom teeth grow in at an angle. Your dental professional will recommend removing them. If they're left in place, they can damage your other teeth and damage your temporomandibular joint.
An impacted wisdom tooth can be extremely painful. As the tooth grows in, you may not realize anything is wrong until your back teeth become loose and painful to the touch. If the wisdom tooth is coming in at a slight angle, it may look healthy, but in reality, it's pressing against the tooth next to it, forcing it out of place.
Biting, chewing, or putting any pressure on an impacted tooth will result in varying degrees of pain. It can also lead to infection if the sharp edges of the wisdom tooth have started to cut through your gum tissue. You'll be able to feel your teeth start to shift as you put pressure on them. This is often one of the signs your dental provider will use to identify the problem. A set of X-rays will show your wisdom tooth's location and whether or not it's damaging other teeth.
Because of their location and the limited amount of space at the rear of the mouth, your dental provider may have to remove your wisdom teeth instead of pulling them surgically. Your wisdom teeth are larger than your back molars and, in some cases, have long roots that extend further into your jaw.
If a wisdom tooth is impacted, there is no way to pull the tooth straight from the socket. When this occurs, your dental provider will have to surgically remove the tooth by making an incision and breaking the tooth into smaller pieces. This enables them to pull the entire tooth, including the roots embedded deep in the jaw.
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