Wisdom teeth and the surrounding areas are a haven for bacteria, which can lead to plaque buildup, which in turn can lead to diseases and a host of related complications. While not always the case, sometimes wisdom teeth need to be removed because they are impacted. This means there isn’t enough room for them to emerge from the gums to grow in safely and naturally.
If you are among the majority of people who must have at least some of your wisdom teeth taken out, make sure you know the warning signs so you can get timely care.
The Main Red Flags
Pain is, not surprisingly, the biggest symptom of an impacted wisdom tooth. Whenever tooth pain persists for more than a couple of days, it’s a good idea to have it checked out. Catching an infection early is key to getting it remedied quickly, before it gets worse.
Not all impacted wisdom teeth start with overt pain. Another sign is red and/or swollen gums that may or may not include pain. This can be difficult to check yourself, so grab a flashlight, mirror and possibly a friend or loved one to see if your gums around the wisdom teeth are red or swollen.
Similarly, gums that are tender or bleeding are another telltale sign that something is wrong. Bleeding gums are also a potential sign of gingivitis, especially in someone who doesn’t brush properly or floss regularly. This can also include a swollen jaw, especially since wisdom teeth are tucked so close to the sharpest edges of the jawline. If any swelling is present, it’s time to see your dentist as soon as possible.
Before blaming your bad breath on your lunch, understand that it may be a sign that teeth are impacted and an infection is in full swing. It’s not natural for your breath to smell (unless you went heavy on the onions or garlic), so consider this a sign that something is amiss. Some people also report a bad taste in their mouth, which is a complementary symptom that your wisdom teeth may be an issue.
Finally, a headache might be a stand-alone symptom or accompany any of the previous issues. Of course, headaches can be caused by many things and they’re not always serious. So, when should you make an appointment with your dentist? If there is tooth or gum pain, swelling, or any other problem behind your third molars, it’s wise to get checked. A simple x-ray can show if wisdom teeth are an issue.