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Understanding Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Every year, approximately 5 million Americans have surgery to remove impacted wisdom teeth, which are also known as your third molars. In patients whose third molars have fully erupted, wisdom teeth removal is quite simple.

In most cases, it is advisable to extract impacted third molars to prevent future complications. At Innovative Implant and Oral Surgery, impacted wisdom teeth removal is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, so that our patients experience no discomfort during the procedure. Recovery from wisdom tooth surgery is a straightforward process: you’ll be able to return home directly after the extraction, and you’ll be back to normal within a week.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth serve no functional purpose and are no longer necessary to humans. While some people have enough room in their jaws to accommodate these last four permanent molars, many do not. It is this lack of space that causes wisdom teeth to become impacted as they try to break through the gum line. The molars can come in at odd angles, growing in twisted or facing sideways. This unnatural positioning causes the teeth to become trapped between the jawbone and gum tissue.

There are several degrees of wisdom tooth impaction, determined by the positioning of the molars in the jaw. Depending on the type and severity of impaction, oral surgery may be required. Here at Innovative Implant and Oral Surgery, X-ray images are used to assess the type of impaction and whether surgical intervention is necessary.

Types of impacted wisdom teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth removal is not imminent in every single case. Your oral surgeon will explain your options after evaluating the type of impaction.

  • Soft-Tissue Impaction – The wisdom teeth are trapped underneath the gum line due to insufficient space
  • Partial Bony Impaction – The wisdom teeth have partially erupted through the jaw bone but is symptomatic and creating problems with oral hygiene.
  • Full Bony Impaction – The molars are fully embedded in the jaw bone.

Whether fully or partially impacted, wisdom teeth can cause problems when they grow in:

  • Angled toward the back of the mouth – known as a distal impaction
  • Tilted toward the front of the mouth – referred to as a mesial impaction
  • Straight up and down – known as a vertical impaction
  • At a right angle to other teeth, lying on their side – called a horizontal impaction

A horizontal impacted wisdom tooth may not be painful at first, but it can exert lateral pressure on the second molar, resulting in trauma, crowding and possible root disintegration.

Fully impacted wisdom tooth complications

Fully impacted wisdom teeth – as well as partially impacted molars — that are left untreated can cause complications such as:

  • Damage to adjacent teeth – Impacted wisdom teeth can push against adjacent molars, increasing the likelihood of infection and eventual misalignment.
  • Tooth decay – A partially impacted wisdom tooth that has not fully erupted through the gum tissue is more prone to decay and cavities. This is because food particles are easily trapped, and the area is more difficult to access and keep clean.
  • Gum disease – This accumulation of bacteria around impacted teeth increases the chances of developing pericoronitis, a very painful inflammatory gum disease.

Fluid-filled cysts – Impacted wisdom teeth can form a fluid-filled sac that damages the jawbone, nerves and teeth. Although rare, these cysts can develop into non-cancerous tumors.

Impacted wisdom teeth symptoms

Impacted wisdom teeth may be quite painful, or completely asymptomatic. If any of the following symptoms do arise, they are generally tied to the beginnings of an infection around the soft tissues.

  • Jaw pain and tenderness
  • Swollen or bleeding glums
  • Headaches
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Stiffness in the jaw
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth

Routine dental X-rays will usually indicate impacted wisdom teeth long before symptoms develop. While you can’t prevent impaction from occurring, you can take steps to monitor the process and prevent future complications down the line.

Impacted wisdom teeth removal in Feasterville and Newtown, PA

If you have the signs of an impacted wisdom tooth, we recommend scheduling an appointment with one of our experienced oral surgeons. Our clinic is located in Feasterville, convenient to patients throughout Bucks County, PA.

Additional Resources on Impacted Wisdom Teeth:

  1. Mayo Clinic, Impacted Wisdom Teeth
  2. Colgate, Symptoms Of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
  3. Crest, Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Symptoms, Types & Removal
  4. LiveScience, Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Oral Surgery and Extraction



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Begin your journey to better oral health today. Learn more about the services we provide, what to expect during your first visit, and schedule your appointment at Innovative Oral Surgery & Dental Implants.