Do you have an impacted wisdom tooth, or one that's erupting horizontally? This can cause severe complications for your oral health. Our Edmonton dentists explain why wisdom teeth sometimes grow horizontally and why extraction is often necessary.
Why are my wisdom teeth horizontal?
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come in. For most people, this third set of molars erupts between 15 and 25 years of age. Complications are common with these teeth as the rest of your permanent teeth have already emerged when the wisdom teeth begin to come in.
Spacing issues between teeth can cause wisdom teeth to become impacted and grow horizontally. If this occurs, there is simply no way for them to grow in properly because there's not enough open space for them to erupt. As a result, wisdom teeth will remain horizontal (or crooked if they are able to emerge through the gumline).
Horizontal impaction (wisdom teeth that grow in sideways) are situated parallel to the jawbone and don't break through the gum's surface. While you can't visibly see the problem as they remain under the gumline, this also makes it more difficult to spot dental problems without your dentist's help.
What can happen if your wisdom tooth is growing in sideways?
A few oral health issues can occur as a result of wisdom teeth growing in sideways, including:
Damage to Surrounding Teeth
When one tooth is impacted or out of alignment, it can lead to surrounding teeth becoming decayed, crowded and damaged beyond repair. Eventually, infection may set in. It's important to take the preventive measure of having any impacted wisdom teeth extracted, and decay or damage repaired.
Pain Due to Horizontally Impacted Wisdom Teeth
While pain may point to infection, it can also happen due to the wisdom tooth erupting improperly. If you notice any pain in the back of your mouth where your wisdom teeth would be, but don't see the tooth itself or it's barely emerged from the surface of your gum, chances are your problem originates here.
If you've got a wisdom tooth growing in horizontally, you run the risk of your gum tissue swelling or becoming infected. gum flaps may also develop.
Pain surrounding your wisdom teeth or the development of gum flaps may mean extraction is required. Any bleeding, pain or swelling where your gum line is is often an indication that dental treatment is required as soon as possible.
Potential Periodontal Problems
Along with the pain and other problems impacted wisdom teeth can cause is the risk of gum (periodontal) disease.
This is because the location of your wisdom teeth makes it more difficult to clean them properly. If periodontal problems occur due to an impacted wisdom tooth, extraction will remedy the original problem. You may also need gum disease treatment or other treatment recommended by your dentist.
Formation of Dental Cysts or Jaw Cysts
While dental cysts or jaw cysts are rare, the risk of these developing can increase with horizontal wisdom teeth. Dental cysts can also cause pain and swelling.
Left untreated, cysts can cause further complications for your oral and overall health, including damage to the jaw bone or the formation of a tumor. Dental surgery may be required to remedy the problem.
Higher Risk of Infection for Older Adults
While improperly erupting wisdom teeth can cause negative effects for people of any age, our bodies tend to react differently to these events as we age. That said, those who are older will have a higher risk of infection than those who are younger. In addition, potential infection can make its way to other parts of your body.
Do horizontal wisdom teeth need to be removed?
You may be surprised to learn that experiencing discomfort as wisdom teeth erupt doesn't necessarily mean you'll need to have them extracted. However, if complications such as impaction arise and cause severe pain or risk of infection, a dentist will typically recommend wisdom tooth extraction to avoid more serious issues long-term.
What should I do if my wisdom teeth hurt?
If you're feeling pain in your wisdom teeth, it's worth coming in for an exam with your Edmonton dentist to see how they are emerging and to plan to address any potential issues. If you have concerns about your teeth, please do not hesitate to call our dental team.
Extractions & Wisdom Teeth Removal at Azarko Dental Group
If you have wisdom teeth that are causing pain, swelling or other complications, your Edmonton dentist can assess your teeth during a consultation, address any questions or concerns you might have, then explain your treatment options.
The sooner impacted wisdom teeth are addressed, the more potential oral health issues and complications can be prevented or treated, with lower risk of long-term negative effects for oral and overall health.