When a patient comes in to see me at my office in Oakville, with jaw pain, it is often necessary to take an "X-ray" or "radiograph".
The kind you see above is great because it shows all the teeth. It is not detailed enough to diagnose cavities but I can see many pathologies and the developmental stages of the various teeth. This young lady is 15 and has no room for her wisdom teeth. The teeth on the extreme right and left in the image are not in the mouth yet and you may notice the roots are not formed yet. As they form the teeth try to come in to the mouth. Since there is no room, they are pressing on the teeth already there causing pain. These are "impacted wisdom teeth". Now what is interesting here is where the arrow is pointing. This is an abnormality that we found that doesn't hurt and I would never know was there unless we took the x-ray. While this mass may very well be benign, I have referred her to have this evaluated and deal with it if need be. My oral surgeon will do that and remove the impacted wisdom teeth.
Now impacted wisdom teeth can often be painless, but if no, the symptoms can include; jaw pain, headaches, inability to open your mouth normally, swelling in the gums at the back of the mouth, as well as a bad odour or taste in the mouth.
So what happens if you leave a painless impacted wisdom tooth to sit quietly in the jaw. Often nothing. They may just sit there and cause no problems. But if they are pressing against another tooth, they can cause the tooth they press against to start to disolve away and if bad enough, the wisdom tooth and the tooth it pushes on would be lost. So sometimes if there is no room, wisdom teeth are removed proactively because of problems they can cause ( and if I see there is no room for them to come into the mouth). It is also important to think long term too because it is easier to remove a wisdom tooth in a younger person since the bone is softer and healing is better in younger people.
Dr Steven Rosenblat
Great things start with a smile! at TheOakvilleDentist.com