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A Guide to Impacted Wisdom Teeth and Infection

What is an impacted wisdom tooth?

Most people flinch at the mere mention of impacted wisdom teeth and it is true that this particular problem can be the source of a great deal of pain and, in some cases, emergency treatment.

The best way to avoid it, of course, is to make regular visits to your dentist. If you go for routine check-ups, as advised by us at the Pearl Dental Clinic, we will be able to monitor the growth of your wisdom teeth and take the necessary precautions.

So, you may ask, what exactly is meant by ‘impacted wisdom teeth‘. Let us explain. Your wisdom teeth are trying to come through but cannot do so because your existing teeth are in the way and therefore the wisdom teeth become ‘impacted’.

The result is that they begin to grow crookedly and there is also a danger of infection. When that happens pain is not far away. It can come upon you quickly and increase rapidly, so obviously you will be eager for some relief.

Infection may mean emergency dental treatment

If infection has set in there may be no other course of action than emergency dental treatment – as quickly as possible.

An abscess or cyst are two causes of infection, but whatever form it takes it is usually triggered by just one thing – decay. That may come as a surprise, in view of the fact that the wisdom tooth is, apparently, protected by the existing teeth that are blocking its progress.

However, because the wisdom teeth have been forced into growing at peculiar angles they sometimes puncture the gum without coming through completely, and this has the effect of creating little indentations where bits of food can accumulate. The food remains there for long periods because it is so difficult to clean such an area right at the back of the mouth by normal brushing, and consequently there is the perfect set of circumstances for bacteria to form. This, in turn, brings about the formation of acid and ultimately decaying teeth. When that happens infection is usually not far behind.

Why it is best not to delay having treatment

This is when action needs to be taken, otherwise it could lead to even more serious consequences, because the decay can spread quickly and easily to other teeth, and sometimes the gum tissue. You will notice this because there is inflammation and soreness of the gum and very often bad breath and a nasty taste in your mouth. Not at all pleasant. The technical term for this condition is pericoronitis.

If you delay having treatment that is when there could be the very painful formation of an abscess or cyst, which can be filled with pus. A further spread to the gums and around the mouth will lead you to suffer soreness and swelling right down the infected side of the face.

More dangerously, if pericoronitis (gum disease) is not treated by professional dentists like us at the Pearl Dental Clinic in London, the infection can spread not only to the cheeks and jaw but, in some admittedly rare cases, towards the brain as well.

All this can be avoided, or at least eased, by keeping your dentist regularly informed about the state of your teeth and taking advice on the proper course of treatment. It may be that you experience symptoms which suggest that something is wrong – sore and sensitive teeth, tender gums and an aching jaw for example – but put up with it until your next scheduled appointment. After all, there is no denying the fact that a visit to the dentist can be expensive. However, it is foolish to delay. It could have serious consequences.

You see, in that time, however short it may be, between the onset of the symptoms and your next visit, the wisdom teeth can become infected. And that is when your problems really start.

Removal of the tooth may be the best option

Once the wisdom teeth have become impacted it is probably better to have them removed to avoid the chance of infection setting in. An examination by one of our dentists here at the Pearl Dental Clinic will enable a decision to be made as to whether or not such action is necessary.

An infected wisdom tooth can be treated by clearing the infection from the areas around the tooth, removing the plaque which has built up, as well as other debris, but there is still the small matter of making sure that the infection does not recur, and to that end it may still mean the removal of the tooth itself.

You may feel that more effort should be made to save the teeth; that dentists are too quick to recommend removal; that such operations are not necessary. However, in order to protect existing adjacent teeth it is still often regarded as the wisest preventive option.

Regular visits to the dentist will reduce the risks

The crux of the matter is that regular visits to your dentist will considerably reduce the risks of you having to require emergency dental treatment. Wisdom teeth normally come through between the ages of 16 and 25 so you are advised to attend many check-ups during this period.

If you fail to do this then you will probably not even know that your wisdom teeth are coming through, let alone whether they are going to cause you a little bit of toothache, greater pain, or far more serious problems.