Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth are a common dental issue that occurs when the third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, become partially or fully trapped in the gums or jawbone. This condition can lead to a variety of oral health problems, including infection, tooth decay, and gum disease. In this article, we’ll share our knowledge about impacted wisdom teeth to help you make informed choices about your oral health. This article is brought to you by M2 Dental Clinic, the best dental clinic in Vancouver.

Introduction to Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, often referred to as third molars, evoke memories of childhood discomfort for many adults. While the pain of growing teeth may fade from memory, the emergence of wisdom teeth serves as a poignant reminder. Typically, adults possess four wisdom teeth, two situated in the upper gum and two in the lower.

These molars, like their counterparts, commence development within the jawbone around the age of 9. By 14, their crowns take form, and as adolescence draws to a close, around 18-19 years old, they begin their journey towards the oral cavity. However, not all wisdom teeth emerge unencumbered. Some remain hidden, trapped within the bone, a condition known as latent wisdom teeth.

The implications of latent wisdom teeth are significant. Without adequate space to grow, these molars exert pressure on neighboring teeth, precipitating various dental issues. It becomes imperative to address latent wisdom teeth promptly to avert potential risks.

What distinguishes wisdom teeth from other molars is their late arrival and potential for complications. Given their position at the rear of the jaw, they may struggle to emerge fully, leading to impaction or partial eruption.

Therefore, understanding the nuances of wisdom teeth, their development, and potential challenges is crucial for maintaining optimal dental health. Regular dental check-ups facilitate early detection and intervention, ensuring that wisdom teeth do not become a source of discomfort or complication.

What is Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth, also referred to as third molars, present a common dental concern affecting a significant portion of the population. These molars typically begin to emerge between the ages of 17 and 25, but complications often arise due to limited space within the jaw.

The condition of impacted wisdom teeth arises when these molars fail to erupt fully or correctly, either due to obstruction or insufficient space. This phenomenon is prevalent, affecting approximately 70-80% of individuals, with varying degrees of severity. For example, in Sweden, research suggests that approximately 72% of individuals aged 20 to 30 years have at least one impacted third molar. Similarly, the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons reports that 90% of people possess at least one impacted wisdom tooth.

Early detection of impacted wisdom teeth is paramount, as it allows for timely intervention to mitigate potential complications. These complications may include infections, cysts, damage to adjacent teeth, and misalignment. Regular dental check-ups and X-rays play a crucial role in identifying impacted wisdom teeth early on, enabling proactive management to preserve oral health. For those needing wisdom teeth extraction or surgery, M2Dental Clinic boasts a dedicated team of experienced oral surgeons utilizing state-of-the-art equipment and techniques.

Understanding the Types of Wisdom Teeth Impaction

Impacted wisdom teeth present a spectrum of challenges, categorized into three distinct types, each with its own implications for dental health.

Soft Tissue Impaction

Soft tissue impaction occurs when the wisdom tooth encounters obstruction from soft tissue, leading to partial coverage by the gum flap. This scenario often results in discomfort, swelling, and increased susceptibility to infection due to inadequate cleaning.

Partial Bony Impaction

Partial bony impaction involves the tooth partially breaking through the gum line but encountering an obstacle in the form of bone. This impediment can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and potential damage to neighboring teeth if left unaddressed.

Full Bony Impaction

Full bony impaction represents the most severe form, where the wisdom tooth remains entirely encased within the jawbone. This condition poses significant challenges, often causing pain, swelling, and potential complications such as cyst formation or damage to nearby structures. Surgical extraction is typically necessary to alleviate symptoms and prevent further complications.

Each type of impaction necessitates a tailored treatment approach. Soft tissue impactions are relatively manageable and may require less invasive procedures. Partial bony impactions present a moderate challenge, often requiring intervention to mitigate complications. Full bony impactions demand careful consideration and typically necessitate extraction to prevent further issues such as infection and damage to adjacent teeth.

Understanding the nuances of each impaction type is essential for determining the appropriate treatment approach, aiming to alleviate symptoms and preserve oral health effectively.

Causes of Impaction wisdom tooth

Wisdom teeth typically get stuck due to a combination of factors related to jaw size, tooth positioning, and even genetics. Here’s a breakdown of the main causes of impacted wisdom teeth:

The evolution of the human jaw plays a significant role in the prevalence of impacted wisdom teeth. Over time, our jaws have become smaller compared to our ancestors, leading to insufficient space for the proper eruption of wisdom teeth. This lack of real estate within the jaw is a primary factor contributing to impaction. As wisdom teeth are the last to emerge, they often encounter a crowded environment, resulting in misalignment or obstruction.

Misalignment of the jaw or teeth further compounds the issue of impacted wisdom teeth. Even if some space is available, the angle at which wisdom teeth grow or the positioning of adjacent teeth can lead to impaction. Whether growing in sideways or at an angle forward, misaligned wisdom teeth struggle to find their place in the dental arch, increasing the likelihood of impaction.

Genetic predisposition also plays a pivotal role in the development of impacted wisdom teeth. Family history can serve as an indicator of one’s susceptibility to this condition. Individuals with relatives who have experienced impacted wisdom teeth are more likely to face similar challenges due to shared genetic traits influencing jaw size and tooth development. Studies suggest a hereditary influence on jaw and tooth morphology, highlighting the importance of genetic factors in determining the likelihood of impaction.

Signs and Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a variety of signs and symptoms, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and complications. Common signs and symptoms associated with impacted wisdom teeth are:

Pain and Discomfort

One of the most common symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth is pain, which can be felt in the back of the mouth where the tooth is located. This pain can be throbbing or aching and may radiate to other areas, such as the jaw or ear on the same side of the face. The pain can be more intense during chewing or biting.

Swelling and Redness

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause swelling and redness in the gums, particularly around the area where the tooth is impacted. This swelling can lead to tenderness and bleeding of the gums. The gums may appear angry, extremely red, and may even bleed from time to time. Additionally, there can be swelling around the jaw, which can be sensitive to the touch.

Difficulty Opening Mouth or Chewing

Patients with impacted wisdom teeth often experience difficulty opening their mouth or chewing food. This difficulty can be due to the tooth pushing against neighboring teeth or only partially emerging above the gumline, making it hard to open the mouth wide or chew properly. Consistently experiencing pain when eating or struggling to eat certain foods can indicate an impacted wisdom tooth.

Other symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth can include:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Pus around the wisdom tooth
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Earache


As we’ve discussed the various types, causes, and symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth in this section, it’s evident that understanding these features is critical for anyone dealing with this dental problem.

To fully understand the consequences of impacted wisdom teeth and how to manage them, it is necessary to go deeper into the potential treatment options. In the next section of this article, we’ll look at several treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical, to help you make informed decisions about your oral health. Stay tuned as we continue to explore the complexities of impacted wisdom teeth and provide practical advice for navigating this frequent dental difficulty. Do not miss out on the crucial information in Impacted Wisdom Tooth Part 2; Impacted Wisdom Teeth; Treatment options


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