The adult mouth houses 32 fully erupted teeth—and you use these teeth to chew, drink, and talk. However, your mouth also contains four additional teeth in the back-most part of your gums, two on each side, and one of those two on the top and bottom rows of your teeth.
If you’re lucky, your wisdom teeth, as these four extra chompers will stay below the gumline and not cause you any problems. Unfortunately, though, an average of 5 million people in the US have their wisdom teeth extracted each year.
Not sure if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed now or sometime in the future? Read on to discover some of the common signs that you’ll need to schedule an appointment with your dentist to have these extra teeth extracted.
Pain Along the Back Part of Your Gums
Often, the most common sign of wisdom teeth growth or problems is pain along the back part of your gums.
Behind your last erupted molar along each side and the top and bottom of your gumline, there is an empty space. If your wisdom teeth are the source of your pain, then you’ll likely feel it here. The pain may also radiate to other areas of your gums, so call your dentist if you feel pain.
Stiffness or Pain in Your Jaw
Likewise, you may feel pain in your jaw, or the area may seem stiff. If the stiffness and pain are too intense, you might have a harder time eating, talking, or otherwise opening your mouth. To find relief, seek treatment immediately.
Sometimes, the pain and stiffness can result from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), but your dentist can help you find the exact cause—and if your wisdom teeth are to blame, an extraction is the best solution.
Swelling or Redness in Your Back Gums
Do your back gums feel hot and tight? If you look at them with a small mirror, do they appear red and puffy? Just like any other teeth, your wisdom teeth will try to break through your gums and grow through the surface.
Swelling and redness are common signs that the teeth are about to erupt and that the site could be infected as a side effect. Contact your dentist if you notice any redness or puffiness in your gums—if the site is infected, leaving the area untreated may require more extensive treatment.
Growing Teeth in the Back of Your Mouth
Another easy-to-spot sign of wisdom teeth is actually seeing those teeth erupting through your gums. While not all grown-in wisdom teeth can cause issues, some can.
For example, if your wisdom teeth come through your gums incorrectly, they may force other teeth to move, resulting in a crooked smile. The additional teeth may also make your mouth too crowded, causing other dental concerns like plaque buildup (which can result in dental decay).
Have your dentist determine if your grown-in wisdom teeth require extraction or if they can remain in your mouth without causing other damage.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth Under the Gumline
The only way to determine if your wisdom teeth are impacted is by X-ray or similar dental scans. If you’ve noticed any of the above-listed signs, see your dentist. He or she can take X-rays to see if the teeth are impacted below the gumline and then schedule you for an extraction.
If you have any questions about the extraction process, get in touch with your dentist. After he or she has determined that you need these teeth pulled and has scheduled this minor surgery, he or she can address your concerns and provide you with the information and tips you need both before and after your appointment.
Not sure which dentist to turn to? Call All About Smiles to request an appointment.