Got a terrible aching feeling at the back of your mouth? It could be your wisdom teeth coming through to cause trouble.
What are impacted wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth do not always cause complications or pain, but because many people have too little space in their jaw, they sometimes grow at an angle, pushing on, or getting stuck against, other teeth. This is known as impacted wisdom teeth, and it affects almost three out of four people in their 20s. A trip to the dentist for an x-ray of your teeth can tell you if your wisdom teeth are impacted.
What are the symptoms?
- Pain and tenderness in the gums and jaw;
- Swelling or redness in the gums;
- An unpleasant taste in the mouth when you bite in the area of the wisdom teeth;
- Bad breath;
- In more rare cases, symptoms include swollen glands in the neck or problems opening your mouth.
Impacted or just coming out?
Some people can experience slight pain or unpleasant feelings when the wisdom teeth appear, even if they are not impacted. When teeth are coming out a mouthwash of lukewarm, salty water can help (tasty stuff). Painkillers such as paracetamol or Aspirin® can also relieve short-term pain. Good dental hygiene is vital as infections can develop when the teeth are coming out, but if symptoms and pain persist consult your dentist.
How can it be treated?
Impacted wisdom teeth are normally removed in a dental surgery under local anaesthetic, but sometimes general anaesthetic will be needed. It is a common procedure, and more than 50,000 operations are carried out each year. The dentist will cut through the gum, break the tooth into pieces and remove it. Self-dissolving stitches will sometimes bee needed close the gum. Slight bleeding, swelling and pain are normal after the operation and will recede in a few days, but an operation can occasionally lead to more serious complications, such as dry socket. Post-surgery problems are more common if you are over 24 years-old when you have the operation.
Is surgery always necessary?
If the tooth is pressing into the surrounding gum the problem can sometimes be solved by a simple procedure of cutting back the gum. If surgery is not deemed necessary by your dentist, regular check-ups are important to make sure problems do not occur.
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