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.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

To provide you with a better understanding of wisdom teeth, we have provided the following multimedia presentation. Many common questions pertaining to wisdom teeth are discussed.

Wisdom Teeth Presentation

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.

A diagram half mouth X-ray with teeth impaction and half digital graphic highlighting impacted teeth

Types Of Impactions

    For a variety of reasons, nearly everyone will benefit from wisdom tooth removal. A special x-ray of your mouth and jaws (panorex) may 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 to allow the gum tissue to retract for adequate cleaning of the tooth.
  • Partial Bony Impaction: There is enough space to allow the wisdom tooth to partially erupt. However, the tooth cannot function properly in the chewing process, and creates cleaning problems, among others.
  • Complete Bony Impaction: There is no space for the tooth to erupt. It remains embedded in the jaw bone or even partially visible and requires surgical removal.The impacted wisdom tooth may also be in an unusual positions, which can make it somewhat more difficult to remove. This situation can also arise when the shape or size of the jaw bone and other facial structures make removal of this tooth more complex.
A representation of a wisdom tooth impacted by soft tissueSoft Tissue
An example of a wisdom tooth with a partial bony impactionPartial Bony
An illustration of a wisdom tooth completely impacted by boneComplete Bony