Wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth to grow in. Also known as third molars, they sit in the back of the mouth and can cause several problems, including gum disease. Some people have enough room for the wisdom teeth to break through the gums and sit in alignment with the other molars. But in many people, the wisdom teeth cannot fully erupt and remain either partially or fully trapped in the gum tissue or the jawbone. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, this is known as impaction, and 90 percent of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth. Both impacted and non-impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to gum disease.
How Do Wisdom Teeth Cause Gum Disease?
Wisdom teeth are situated at the back of the mouth, making them difficult to get to and clean with a toothbrush and floss. Food can easily get trapped behind the tooth, where even gargling and mouthwash cannot remove it. This leads to tooth decay, infection, and gum disease. In the case of partially impacted wisdom teeth, bacteria can get under the flap of gum where the tooth breaks through and starts an infection. Often, gum disease is unaccompanied by any immediate pain and goes unnoticed until it reaches a more severe stage.
Left untreated, gum disease can destroy the gum tissue and bone around the tooth and cause the body to respond with an inflammatory response throughout the whole body that contributes to cardiovascular disease, including increased risk of stroke, makes diabetes treatment more complex, and complicates pregnancy.
What Are Some Other Problems Caused by Wisdom Teeth?
Many people do not have room for wisdom teeth to erupt fully, meaning they remain trapped in the gum or jawbone in various stages of development. They may partially erupt or change position, and each wisdom tooth may be at a different stage. Besides gum disease, some of the problems related to wisdom teeth include:
- Damage to other teeth: A wisdom tooth attempting to find room to erupt pushes on the adjacent teeth, which can cause structural damage.
- Decay and cavities: Wisdom teeth are difficult to clean, leading to a build-up of bacteria. This affects not only the wisdom tooth itself but also the tooth next to it. Both can develop decay and cavities.
- Headaches and pain: Some impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain that radiates throughout the jaw, face, and head.
- Shifting: Wisdom teeth pressure the surrounding teeth, moving other teeth into crooked positions and impacting your bite.
It can take years for wisdom teeth to erupt even partially; in the process, they can cause gum disease and other problems. Consulting with an oral surgeon can help avoid infection and disease.
South Jersey Oral Surgeons at Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Help Patients With Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Dental care is an integral part of your overall health. Gum disease may develop over an extended period, so do not wait until you are in pain to consult with an oral surgeon. Our experienced South Jersey oral surgeons at Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons can help. Call 856-582-4222 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Located in Washington Township, Haddonfield, and Woolwich Township, New Jersey, we serve patients throughout South Jersey.