When it comes to impacted wisdom teeth, preventative treatment is always better then waiting for problems to occur.
You can't predict when impacted wisdom teeth may cause pain, swelling, infection, or irreversible damage to surrounding teeth. You can however, choose to have your impacted wisdom teeth removed in your own time by a surgical specialist, before you begin to experience these problems.
Wisdom teeth that are left to a “wait and see approach” will often be harder to remove and may result in slower and more painful healing. There is also a greater chance of complications from the surgery to remove them, such as permanent injury to the nerves running through the jaw.
Wisdom teeth that look like they will become impacted, should ideally be removed between the ages of 16 and 18. Wisdom teeth at this stage have only partially formed, and the jawbone encasing them is much softer, making them much easier to remove. This in turn makes for a shorter and more comfortable recovery period.
Impacted wisdom teeth that are fully grown are usually buried deep within a person's jaw, with roots that may wrap around major nerves or anatomical structures. Removing such wisdom teeth requires their delicate dissection from around these structures, and ensuring that the surrounding teeth and nerves are not harmed.
Surgically removed wisdom teeth leave behind large areas of empty bone within the jaw, meaning that the jaw is left at increased risk of fracture. A vital aspect of specialist wisdom teeth surgery involves rebuilding the bone in these areas to restore the integrity and strength of the jaws.
Specialist wisdom teeth surgery is about more than just taking out teeth. It exists to maximise your comfort levels after surgery, to minimise your risk of complications, and to return you to your everyday life as quickly as possible. And before impacted wisdom teeth can evolve into the following ...
Permanent damage to the surrounding teeth
Impacted wisdom teeth are pushed up so tightly against the molar teeth next to them, that they create a space that is impossible to keep free of bacteria and food debris.
This bacteria and food debris causes chronic inflammation in the areas between these teeth, leading to gum disease and decay that can damage both teeth
The patient in the x-ray above, only began experiencing pain after most of the molar tooth in front had decayed, and ended up needing to have both teeth removed.
Increased risk of fracture to the jaw
Impacted wisdom teeth increase the risk of fracture to the angles of the jaw, which may occur following small knocks during sports or other activities.
Wisdom teeth occupy areas in the jaw that would usually be filled with dense bone. The reduced volume of bone caused by impacted wisdom teeth substantially weakens the jaw.
The early wisdom teeth removal by a surgical specialist, with bone grafting to restore the strength of the jaw, would have greatly minimised the risk of this jaw fracture occurring.
Increased risk of complications
Impacted wisdom teeth that have fully grown are more complicated to remove than wisdom teeth that have only partially formed.
The wisdom teeth in the bottom jaw shown above are completely encased in bone, with roots that have grown down and around the major nerves running through the jaw.
The surgery requires a substantial amount of bone to be removed in order to take these wisdom teeth out safely from around the nerves, with bone grafting to recreate the strength of the jaw.
Impacted wisdom teeth animation