What is an Abscessed Wisdom Tooth?

Wisdom teeth are a throwback to our ancestors, who used them to chew food. Through time, our jaws have become smaller and more compact, and so wisdom teeth have become redundant in modern life. We still grow them, however, and for many people they are a nuisance.

Wisdom tooth impactions are a common dental complaint that occurs when the wisdom teeth have insufficient room to grow into the mouth properly. As a result, they might grow in crooked and impact and press against other teeth. This in turn can lead to teeth becoming damaged.

Some wisdom teeth do not fully erupt into the oral cavity, and often part of the surface of the wisdom tooth remains embedded under the gum tissue. When this happens, there are often small pockets formed between the gum tissue and the surface of the tooth that can harbor bacteria, which in turn can attack the wisdom teeth and so cause tooth decay. Also, because of their location in the mouth, wisdom teeth are harder to clean effectively, and so are more susceptible to decay.

As a result, cavities form in the wisdom tooth, allowing the bacteria to enter the internal structure of the tooth. Once inside, bacteria begins to attack and kill the pulp of the tooth, causing further bacteria to form, which can lead to infection of the tooth, and abscesses can form around the tooth as a result.

If the infection remains untended, then it can develop into a condition called pericoronitis; this condition is where the infection has spread to the gum tissue, causing the gums to become inflamed and sore. Bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth are common accompaniments to pericoronitis.

Infection can also spread to other parts of the face and body, too, including around the mouth, cheeks, jaw and face, leading to soreness and swelling across the infected side of the face.

Because of the way a wisdom tooth has grown into the mouth, an oral surgeon might have greater difficulty treating the problem of an abscessed wisdom tooth. The angle and location of the tooth might make it extremely difficult, or even impossible, to use conventional root canal treatment to treat the tooth and the infection, and so most will elect to remove the tooth altogether, before tackling any infection with antibiotics.

To find our more about wisdom teeth and potential issues that may arise, contact the office of Dr. K. Ford Moore at 905-853-3727 today.