31 May Why Ignoring Wisdom Teeth Could Lead to These 3 Health Problems
Wisdom teeth are no problem — until they are! While most everyone has wisdom teeth, they can cause a lot of pain and trouble if something goes wrong. From impacted teeth to overcrowding, wisdom teeth can seriously impact your health.
An impacted wisdom tooth occurs when a wisdom tooth fails to rise above the gums or grows incorrectly, resulting in pain, swelling, and other problems. Overcrowding is caused by incoming wisdom teeth twisting the other teeth in your mouth. Wisdom teeth can also increase your risk of tooth decay, infection, cysts, and damaged teeth.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
If you’ve ever researched wisdom teeth, there’s a good chance that you’ve encountered the word “impacted.” But what exactly does it mean? According to the American Association of Orthodontists, a tooth becomes impacted when:
- It has not come in, or erupted, when it should have
- It can’t erupt due to not having enough room
- The tooth is erupting but in the wrong position or direction
Impacted teeth can occur for different reasons. One example would be a permanent tooth coming in before the baby tooth falls out. This results in an impacted permanent tooth and requires the baby tooth to be extracted so it can come in. This isn’t the case with wisdom teeth since they don’t replace baby teeth.
In the case of wisdom teeth, the real issue is that most people’s mouths aren’t big enough for four extra teeth. This is why most people only have 28 teeth rather than 32. The lack of space in our mouths results in wisdom teeth that are impacted, causing them to only partially erupt, grow at a wrong angle, or even come out sideways.
Impacted teeth can lead to other dental problems such as:
- Damage to other teeth
- Increased risk of tooth decay
Sometimes impacted teeth don’t result in any visible signs of damage. However, this doesn’t mean that everything is fine. Wisdom teeth located just below the gums are a safe haven for bacteria that can cause an infection that could lead to other health problems.
Crowded teeth occur when there isn’t enough space for teeth to grow in straight. Think of crowded teeth as a specific type of impacted wisdom teeth. Instead of not fully coming in or only coming in crooked, crowded teeth can actually cause your teeth to move out of proper alignment, causing them to overlap as well as affect your bite.
Overlapping teeth are known as malocclusions and they can occur with varying degrees of severity. If you are experiencing crowded teeth due to wisdom teeth, our dental professionals will determine if it is:
Mild crowding occurs when a tooth closer to the front of your mouth becomes slightly rotated due to an incoming wisdom tooth. Moderate crowding will affect two or three teeth. Cases of severe crowding occur when most of the anterior (front) teeth have been affected by incoming wisdom teeth in some way.
While crowding can affect your teeth in several ways, the biggest concern for some people is how they may impact the look of their front teeth. After all, no one wants their front teeth to overlap or become twisted due to incoming wisdom teeth. Unlike impacted wisdom teeth, which aren’t strong enough to affect your front teeth, crowded teeth do have this potential.
If you struggle with severe crowding, our team at Kirkpatrick Dental Care can discuss what options you have to help fix the issue, no matter how severe the situation.
Increased Risk of Tooth Decay
One of the biggest problems of ignoring your incoming wisdom teeth is the increased risk of tooth decay. Wisdom teeth can experience tooth decay for the same reasons that your other teeth do such as consuming food and beverages loaded with sugars, starches, and acids, as well as failure to clean your teeth properly.
However, wisdom teeth tend to be more susceptible to tooth decay due to their location and angle. Wisdom teeth are located in the back of the mouth, which makes them harder to reach when brushing. After spending your life brushing your teeth one way, you also may not think to reach that far back to actually brush them.
This can also make flossing more difficult. Flossing is extremely important in preventing tooth decay since it removes bacteria between teeth that your brush can’t remove. Their position at the back of your mouth could make flossing them a bit trickier than before.
Another reason why wisdom teeth are so difficult to clean is the result of their being impacted. Sometimes only the surfaces of wisdom teeth will make it above the gums, making them even more difficult to clean than if they had completely erupted. This makes their surfaces uneven with the rest of your teeth and harder to clean, leaving them at greater risk of decay.
Other Complications of Wisdom Teeth
There are other complications resulting from wisdom teeth besides what we discussed above. In fact, problems like tooth decay can end up leading to more severe complications involving your wisdom teeth.
Take tooth decay, for example. Being more susceptible to decay also makes them more likely to develop an infection. There are a whole host of types of bacteria that could lead to an infected wisdom tooth. This is why basic oral hygiene, including regular visits to your dentist, is so important for your long-term oral health.
Other complications due to wisdom teeth include:
- Gum disease
- Damage to your other teeth
As we mentioned above, it can be difficult to floss between wisdom teeth as well as teeth that have become crowded. This can eventually lead to gum disease, which can cause even more problems for your oral health.
Wisdom teeth can also result in cysts if not addressed immediately. Wisdom teeth begin their development in a sac located within the jawbone, which can eventually become filled with fluid and damage your jawbone, nerves, and teeth. Benign tumors have also developed in rare cases.
Along with twisted teeth caused by overcrowding, wisdom teeth can also damage other teeth. This is especially true for the molars that wisdom teeth grow behind. As pressure from the wisdom tooth increases, so does your risk of infection and malocclusions.
Wisdom teeth can seem easy to handle early on, especially if they aren’t causing immediate issues, but their long-term effects can have serious repercussions for your dental health. Impacted and crowded teeth can affect your ability to clean your teeth properly, and the risk of complications such as tooth decay only increases. Our team is here to help you face these problems head-on with a treatment plan just for you.