Impacted Wisdom Teeth

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Third molars are commonly referred to as wisdom teeth. They are usually the last teeth to develop and are located in the back of your mouth, behind your second molars. Their development is usually completed between the middle teenage years and early twenties, a time traditionally associated with the onset of maturity and the attainment of wisdom.

What Is An Impacted Tooth?

Although most people develop and grow 32 permanent adult teeth, many times their jaws are too small to accommodate the four wisdom teeth. When inadequate space prevents the teeth from erupting they are called impacted. This indicates their inability to erupt into the proper position for chewing and cleaning.

x-ray and diagram showing impacted wisdom teeth

Types Of Wisdom Teeth Impactions

We will need to see you for a consultation to determine if you will benefit from wisdom tooth removal. A special x-ray of your mouth and jaws (panorex) will be taken to determine if your wisdom teeth are impacted, if there is room for them to erupt, and how difficult it will be to have them removed.

  • Soft Tissue Impaction: There is not enough room for the wisdom tooth to erupt through the gums. This leaves deep pockets around the tooth, which makes it impossible to clean the tooth and increases the chance of infection.
  • Partial Bony Impaction: There is only enough space to allow the wisdom tooth to come part way into the mouth. However, the tooth cannot function properly in the chewing process and also creates cleaning problems.
  • Complete Bony Impaction: There is NO space for the tooth to erupt. It remains embedded in the jaw bone.  In this position, it may develop a cyst or cause damage to the adjacent teeth.
graphic showing soft tissue wisdom teeth impaction
Soft Tissue
graphic showing partial bony wisdom teeth impactionPartial Bony
graphic showing complete bony wisdom teeth impactionComplete Bony