Girl with a painful tooth in a medical office

Girl with a painful tooth in a medical office

Deep in the back of the mouth lie the third molars, more commonly called the wisdom teeth, and despite their friendly-sounding moniker, these teeth are notorious for causing pain and potentially dangerous dental complications. For this reason, most dental experts actually recommend removing the wisdom teeth, even if they have not caused any discomfort.

Not everyone decides to take the immediate removal route, so knowing the potential of dangerously impacted wisdom teeth is important; they could damage adjacent teeth, lead to gum disease or tooth decay and even cause cysts to develop. While there are not always noticeable signs of impacted wisdom teeth, these are a few of the warning symptoms that could indicate the need for dental intervention:

1. Jaw Pain – While there are many different dental issues that can cause jaw pain, the discomfort from impacted wisdom teeth can lead to pain through the jaw and into the skull, often resulting in terrible headaches. The pain could be more intense while chewing, especially if the pain shoots to the back of the mouth or into nearby teeth.

The jaw pain could also lead to swelling of the entire jaw area. This can indicate an especially dangerous impaction, as the tooth may be causing infection or damage to the nerves around it. A visibly swollen jaw line is a definitive way to tell that something is wrong with the tooth.

2. Sore or Bleeding Gums – Impacted wisdom teeth can be a very serious affliction, and a person’s overall dental health may begin to deteriorate. Because jaw and tooth pain often extends throughout the entire area, the gums can also be affected. Sore or bleeding gums, especially when the bleeding occurs with very little provocation, is a definite sign that something is going wrong with the teeth. Tenderness and swollen gums in the back of the mouth generally indicate that the problem is in the wisdom teeth area.

3. Bad Tastes and Smells – When wisdom teeth are impacted, bacteria often becomes trapped in the soft folds of the teeth and gums. This bacteria grows rapidly in dark, damp areas, such as the back of the mouth, and infections may begin. These infections can fester, potentially leading to cysts and decay. A person experiencing tooth decay or excessive bacteria will notice a bad taste in his or her mouth, even while chewing other food. In addition, it can lead to exceptionally bad breath that may be noticed by other people.

Other possible but less common signs of impacted wisdom teeth may include:
• Shooting pain in the back of the mouth
• Swollen glands
• Difficulty opening the mouth
• Ongoing earaches

Because impacted wisdom teeth can cause many complications, including irreversibly damaged nerves and necessary orthodontia, it is important that these warning signs be taken very seriously. Allowing the damage to continue without dental intervention can be very dangerous to overall health, so an appointment must be scheduled as soon as any of these potential symptoms are observed.

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