When you think of new teeth coming in, you typically think of young children, teething, or the tooth fairy. However, a set of third molars usually erupts between the ages of 15 and 25. These are the last set of permanent teeth to erupt. While some may have no problems with wisdom teeth, others experience various dental issues, often requiring the removal of these unnecessary molars.
What does a growing wisdom tooth look like? What are the signs wisdom teeth need to come out? At Soundview Family Dental, we understand the confusion around wisdom teeth, and we offer answers to some common questions.
Where are your wisdom teeth located?
Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt in your mouth. They are located at the very back of both your upper and lower jaw, with two teeth on the top and bottom jaws. There is not enough room for these teeth to come through in many cases, so seeing them in your mouth may be near impossible. When there is not enough room for these wisdom teeth to erupt, they are considered impacted and can cause damage to your surrounding teeth. At this point, wisdom tooth extraction is a necessary treatment to help you save your surrounding teeth.
What do wisdom teeth coming in look like?
If you have enough room in your mouth, a wisdom tooth coming through looks similar to any other tooth. At first, you may experience gum irritation and tenderness accompanied by a dull ache. Your gums may turn red in color, and you may be able to see small white specks on the gums. This is actually the tip of the wisdom teeth breaking through.
Other signs your wisdom teeth are coming in
The best way to know if your wisdom teeth are coming in is through standard dental x-rays. Attending regular dental visits allows your dentist to monitor your wisdom teeth placement and see how and when they may erupt. This is also the best way to predict if your wisdom teeth may become impacted or cause damage to the surrounding teeth.
However, if you haven’t seen the dentist in some time, there are signs your wisdom teeth are trying to break through.
Any time a tooth tries to erupt through the gums, you can expect some gum irritation, including redness, swelling, and tenderness. This irritation can cause discomfort when chewing or even talking. If you experience this, it is good to see your dentist evaluate your wisdom teeth location and help ensure you are not at risk for gum disease.
Jaw pain and discomfort
Because wisdom teeth are located at the back of the jawbones, where there is often not enough space, pressure against the surrounding teeth, jawline, and sinuses is common. This can contribute to constant pain in the jawline or worsen when eating or talking.
Earaches and headaches
In addition to causing pain in the jaw, the pressure and swelling associated with wisdom teeth eruption can also contribute to pain in the head and ears. If you are experiencing unexplained headaches or ear pain, your teeth may actually be to blame.
When wisdom teeth erupt through the gum line, they can cause pockets in the back of the mouth that can collect bacteria. This is especially true if the wisdom teeth are partially impacted and not coming through completely. Because of their location, these pockets are often difficult to reach with your toothbrush and can lead to bad breath or taste in your mouth.
Accidentally biting your tongue or cheeks
As wisdom teeth erupt, they can put pressure on your surrounding teeth. This, in turn, can contribute to swelling of the surrounding gums and jaw muscles, leaving you feeling as though there just isn’t enough room in your mouth. If you find you are often biting your tongue or the inside of your cheek, this could be a sign that there is increased swelling in your mouth and just not enough room to function normally.
As your wisdom teeth come in, they can contribute to swelling throughout the mouth and jaw. This can often be enough to show visible facial swelling in the cheeks and along the jawline.
Because of their location at the back of the jaw, wisdom teeth that do not have enough space to come through can often pressure the jaw. This can cause you to experience difficulty with jaw movement, often leaving your jaw feeling stiff and difficult to move.
As you experience jaw stiffness, irritated gums, pressure on the teeth, and increased swelling. These changes in your mouth can make it difficult to eat and chew your food.
Why does it cause pain?
When wisdom teeth come through, they place pressure on the surrounding teeth and bones, resulting in pain. Increased pain and discomfort can occur due to several different factors, including:
- Impaction: If there is not enough room for the wisdom tooth to come through, it will still try. This often means it becomes rotated in odd positions and places constant pressure on your surrounding teeth. If left untreated, this can lead to permanent damage to the surrounding teeth, including tooth loss.
- Partial eruption: If the wisdom tooth manages to partially erupt, it opens up a space between the gums and the tooth where bacteria can enter. This bacterium often causes an infection, the most common cause of wisdom tooth-associated pain.
- Tumor or cyst: Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to the development of tumors or cysts in the mouth, leading to pain. When this occurs, it is essential to have the wisdom tooth removed as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your surrounding teeth.
Possible complications of wisdom tooth eruption
Because the average adult mouth does not have room for an additional set of molars, complications, such as impacted teeth, are common with wisdom teeth. Unfortunately, many potential complications can occur before you even know your wisdom teeth are on their way. This is why regular dental checkups are so important, as they allow your dentist to see where and how your wisdom teeth are moving. This enables them to prevent any possible complications, such as:
- Pressure on surrounding teeth that alter tooth alignment
- Damage to the roots of your surrounding molars leading to tooth loss
- The buildup of bacteria between the partially erupted tooth and gums leads to gum disease and infection
- Development of a tumor or cyst
- Tooth or bone loss
When do you need a wisdom tooth extraction?
If you are nearing the average age of wisdom tooth eruption or are experiencing wisdom tooth symptoms, the caring team at Soundview Family Dental is here to help. Our dentist, Dr. Kitts, can see where your wisdom teeth are currently located and evaluate any potential concerns they may be causing and offer a treatment plan designed just for you.
To learn more about wisdom tooth care or removal, contact us online today or call the office at (425) 563-6360 to schedule an appointment.