When your third molars decide to make an appearance – either physically, through severe pain, or both – you need to have them addressed immediately. Wisdom tooth extraction is a common, routine procedure that most young adults undergo in their late teens or early 20s, ideally through a planned appointment and not through emergency dentistry. Here’s what you need to know about those pesky extra molars and how they can affect your overall oral health.

1. You Will Have Pain Before You Have Relief

People who are not scheduled for routine wisdom tooth extraction and who do not see their dentist regularly for check-ups are more likely to find themselves facing an emergency extraction. When wisdom teeth show up, they are likely to do so in an unpleasant manner, causing pain, swelling, infection, overcrowding, and even damage to the neighboring teeth.

2. There are Different Types of Wisdom Tooth Impactions

Impacted teeth are unable to erupt properly. All wisdom teeth are usually impacted, even though they may not break through the gum line, so they are termed as fully impacted (completely under the gums) or partially impacted (only partly broken through the gums). The most well-known types of impacted wisdom teeth include:

  • Mesial impaction: This common type of impaction involves a partially erupted tooth that is almost at a diagonal to the tooth next to it, angled toward the front of the mouth.
  • Horizontal impaction: When the third molar is lying completely horizontally under the gums, its orientation causes it to move sideways into the tooth beside it. These are typically the most painful type of impaction and require surgical extraction.
  • Vertical impaction: It would be easy to assume that a tooth that erupts vertically wouldn’t cause any dental problems. However, even though a vertically impacted tooth is in the right position to erupt through the gums, it usually remains under the gum line and may put too much pressure on the tooth root next to it, which means wisdom tooth extraction is often necessary.

3. You May Not Need Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Not everyone who has wisdom teeth (it’s rare to not have third molars) will need wisdom tooth extraction. Your dentist looks at each patient on a case-by-case basis. Some people will never be bothered by wisdom teeth because of the amount of space they have in their mouth or the alignment of their teeth. Other people will have teeth that remain impacted without causing pain or problems.

Cases of wisdom teeth not causing trouble are rare, but it could happen to you. Through x-rays, regular exams, and careful monitoring of your oral health, your dentist will determine when the teeth need to come out. The goal is always to remove wisdom teeth before they have an opportunity to do damage to the rest of your smile, especially if you have undergone orthodontic treatment.

4. You Can’t Control Your Wisdom Teeth

For the most part, wisdom teeth have a mind of their own. The rest of your teeth do too, but they can be controlled with Invisalign or conventional braces and moved into the right spots. Wisdom teeth have the power to destroy all that hard work.

If you or your teen is experiencing mouth or tooth pain, swelling, or any discomfort, contact Smiles by the Sea in Hampton, NH, right away.