Impacted wisdom teeth can be problematic in a number of ways. One of the risks is that an impacted wisdom tooth will develop a painful infection known as an abscess. When bacteria infiltrate the tooth’s core, the byproducts of infection (pus) can collect in the tooth’s pulp, which contains numerous sensitive tooth endings. Painful swelling occurs as the pus accumulates, creating an abscess. Abscesses may also form between the gum tissue and the roots of the wisdom teeth. These infections can also put the surrounding bone material at risk.
It’s tremendously difficult to keep the location of the wisdom teeth free from oral bacteria because it’s so hard to reach the back portion of the jaw with a conventional toothbrush for thorough oral hygiene care. It becomes even more challenging if the wisdom tooth is partially erupted. Therefore, impacted wisdom teeth are highly susceptible to developing abscesses.
Abscesses are potentially quite dangerous, as the infection can spread from the tooth to the bloodstream and travel to other areas of the body. In the most severe cases, the patient may develop a condition known as sepsis, in which infection spreads throughout numerous parts of the body.
To reduce their risk of abscesses and other negative outcomes associated with impacted wisdom teeth, many patients will choose to consult with an oral surgeon about wisdom tooth extraction even before they experience any symptoms.
An oral surgeon can determine whether the wisdom teeth are likely to be impacted in patients who are relatively young, as early as 14 or 15 years old. In fact, the guidelines actually recommend for patients who are having an elective wisdom tooth extraction to undergo the procedure before age 25, when the roots of the wisdom teeth are not as entrenched in the jaw.
Abscesses are painful but not unavoidable. Don’t wait until you experience discomfort to explore extraction of your impacted wisdom teeth. Schedule a consultation at our office, Commonwealth Oral & Facial Surgery, to learn more about this treatment and whether it would benefit you.