Although adolescence is often a period of self-discovery, when teens grow into adult bodies and begin thinking about who they really are as people, it can also be a confusing, frustrating, and awkward time in life. There are also a lot of physical changes.
In addition to growth spurts, adolescents grow new teeth during their teenage years. Unfortunately, with a mouthful of fully-developed teeth to contend with, it’s not uncommon for wisdom teeth to become impacted, or unable to fully erupt.
How can you tell if this is happening during teen or young adult years? Here are a few of the most common warning signs to watch for.
Pain and Swelling
When wisdom teeth begin to grow, they may run into problems if other teeth are in the way, i.e. back molars. If this happens, wisdom teeth may be unable to grow in straight. They can tilt sideways and push up against teeth, your jaw bone, and gums as they grow.
This can lead to mild to severe pain symptoms that increase over time. In addition, it can cause swelling in surrounding areas, including your jaw and gums, as well as nearby glands in the shoulder and neck. All can cause mild discomfort to extreme pain.
In some cases, pain and swelling extend to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and lead to frequent or even constant headache symptoms, as well as pain that radiates into the face. It’s possible to mistake this pain for other conditions, but when paired with other pain and swelling symptoms, impacted wisdom teeth are the most likely culprit.
Even if you don’t suffer a lot of pain or swelling related to impacted wisdom teeth, they could cause a variety of other issues, including tooth movement. When teeth become crowded, they might not only necessitate orthodontic braces for realignment later on, but they could become more difficult to brush, resulting in plaque, cavities, gum disease, and so on. Both crowding and swelling could also be responsible for infections.
Discomfort and pain are not uncommon when wisdom teeth are coming in, and aren’t guaranteed indicators that your teeth are impacted. However, it’s always best to schedule a dental visit when you have tooth/mouth pain. If wisdom teeth are impacted, removal is the best way to avoid both current pain symptoms and future problems.
In many cases, it is recommended to remove wisdom teeth even if they’re erupting perfectly because they are so difficult to clean and maintain that they often end up needing removal later due to cavities and other issues.