Problems start to arise when wisdom start to erupt into space which is not big enough to accommodate the whole crown of the tooth; in many cases the wisdom tooth will be angulated and will become impacted or stuck behind the second molar. Since part of the tooth would have broken through the gums it then becomes susceptible to infections. This is because part of the tooth would become covered with flaps of gums which are difficult to clean and therefore serve as reservoirs for debris and bacteria. Long standing inflammation of the gums surrounding these partially erupted wisdom teeth may sometimes progress to an infection of the wisdom tooth, or as it is technically called, pericoronitis.
Patients suffering from such a condition experience severe pain of the associated side of the face, sometimes spreading to the ear and temporal region of the head. Swelling of the face due to accumulation of pus is also common, as is difficulty in opening the mouth and difficulty in eating. Ulceration of the gums overlying the affected wisdom tooth may also occur due to constant friction between these inflamed and swollen gums and the teeth in opposing dental arch.
Visiting a dentist is imperative when experiencing such symptoms; infections of lower wisdom teeth can sometimes be life threatening if left untreated since the swelling may spread to the airways and impede breathing. Treatment of these types of infections is split into two: the acute treatment phase (basically treating the infection which is causing pain), and the long term treatment phase (dealing with the wisdom tooth which caused the infection in the first place).
Sometimes the impacted teeth can become infected or damage other teeth, and this will cause other symptoms. One of these is pain in the mouth. Sometimes the teeth will only partially erupt, but this allows bacteria to come in and get into the tooth which can cause an infection leading to pain, from mild to very severe, and also cause swelling around the mouth and an overall feeling of illness.
Another symptom is bad breath. Often a partially erupted wisdom tooth gets the aforementioned pain causing decay, and this same decay leads to bad breath. Because of the debris and bacteria they hold, bad breath becomes another side effect. An unpleasant taste in the mouth is another sign of impacted teeth, especially when biting down around the specific area; this is caused by drainage of the infection.
Impacted wisdom teeth also cause swollen or red gums around the tooth, and gums that bleed. The swelling can be due to an internal infection which causes swelling and tightening of the gums as the infection swells and drains. Again this can cause discomfort as well as problems maintaining good dental hygiene if brushing and flossing becomes difficult due to the pain and/or bleeding. Headaches and jaw aches are other common symptoms of impacted teeth. This is usually from an infection of the pressure the impacted tooth is having on the nearby teeth. An infection can also occasionally lead to swollen lymph nodes on the neck.