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Wisdom Teeth Symptoms: Time for Extraction

Adults usually have third molars, otherwise known as wisdom teeth, that come in between the ages of 18 and 24. According to the NHS, several symptoms may tell you it is time to have these teeth removed. Impacted wisdom teeth often cause the most significant discomfort and can ultimately harm your oral health as well.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth include:

  • pain
  • infection
  • red or swollen gums
  • damage to adjacent teeth

Tooth decay may set in as well, mainly if there is poor access to fill a tooth.

Reasons for Extraction

Unfortunately, wisdom tooth-related problems are quite common. Sometimes wisdom teeth don't have enough room to erupt, causing them to become impacted. Instead of the tooth coming in straight, in this case, it can lie on its side and press up against the tooth in front of it - trapped within the jaw or under the gums. This situation can cause crowding, improper bite alignment, and other problems as well.

A partially erupted wisdom tooth may also produce a condition known as pericoronitis, an infection wherein bacteria from food, plaque, and other debris become trapped between the space of the impacted tooth and the gum. Patients with pericoronitis may notice painful, swollen gums near the wisdom tooth. In some cases they may experience noticeable swelling in the face and lymph nodes.

Making the Decision

When thinking about when to see a dentist about wisdom teeth, it's important to speak to your dentist to identify any discomfort or indications of erupting wisdom teeth. If these teeth do not offer any significant complications, they can remain untouched. But if the wisdom teeth are problematic, your dentist may recommend that you have them taken out.

Your dentist will most likely take an X-ray to see how your wisdom teeth are coming in and whether or not they might cause any problems in the future.

If your wisdom teeth need to be removed, the procedure is usually performed by an oral surgeon or dentist. Although in some cases a wisdom tooth extraction may only involve local anaesthesia, you may also be under general sedation, depending on the complexity of your treatment. Dentists usually recommend having wisdom teeth extracted at a younger age because the roots of these teeth are not fully developed, making them easier to remove.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.