Adult teeth are characterized by the presence of wisdom teeth or third molars. They erupt during a person’s late teens or early twenties. The first set of molars appears in a person’s sixth year, the second set when the person is twelve years old and third set later. They normally appear behind the second molars provided there is enough space in the jaw to accommodate them.
Most often, there is not enough room for them to erupt properly. This results in Impacted wisdom tooth. Impaction is caused by the overcrowding of teeth. This is the reason for insufficient room for a new wisdom tooth to emerge. Impaction can also occur when a baby or primary tooth is lost before a new tooth can emerge. This causes the remaining teeth to drift into the space reserved for the new tooth. Most common teeth to undergo impaction are the wisdom teeth because they are the last to appear in a person’s life. The jaw lacks enough room to accommodate them.
Along with this, there are other related problems. If the wisdom tooth is embedded within the gum bed, the gum forms a flap or lid over the biting surface around the tooth called operculum. Teeth that are covered by operculum are not easy to clean with the toothbrush. Once the cleaning is not done, bacteria and debris accumulate in this area leading to infection. This leads to symptoms like swelling and redness of the gum around the site, pronounced difficulty in opening the mouth, a bad odor or taste in the mouth and a general pain in the area which may go up to the neck. If left untreated, it can lead to periocoronitis. Untreated pericoronitis can progress to a much more severe infection.
If the operculum does not disappear, it is best to extract the tooth. It is also advisable to extract the tooth in early stages because as the person ages, more complications can arise.