Impacted wisdom tooth

Typically, the human mouth doesn’t have ample space for all 32 teeth, including the four wisdom teeth. When these wisdom teeth start emerging, they can lead to issues like overcrowding, infections, ear discomfort, and swelling.

Most individuals possess four wisdom teeth, though this number can vary. Some may have fewer or more, although it’s rare.

In cases where a person’s jaw is small or their mouth has an excess of teeth, wisdom teeth may struggle to emerge properly. This situation often results in problems such as overcrowding, infections, ear discomfort, and swelling.

Occasionally, wisdom teeth may grow in an unusual direction—sideways, at an awkward angle, or only partially. This irregular growth can cause pain and harm neighboring teeth. Furthermore, even if immediate damage isn’t apparent, the positioning and orientation of wisdom teeth can render them susceptible to disease and bacteria accumulation, potentially leading to infection and decay.

In many cases, wisdom teeth don’t need to be removed as long as good oral hygiene is maintained. However, if changes are noticed in the mouth by a person or their dentist, removal may be necessary.

Understanding The Difference Between Different Wisdom Teeth Categories

Wisdom teeth come in three categories: fully impacted, partially impacted, and non-impacted. Here’s what sets them apart:

Fully Impacted: These wisdom teeth stay completely hidden beneath the gum line, not showing up in the mouth at all.

Partially Impacted: These teeth peek out a bit, with some parts visible above the gum line while the rest stays underneath.

Non-Impacted: These are the ones fully visible in your mouth, having erupted completely. Despite being visible, it’s essential to understand that even non-impacted wisdom teeth can lead to dental issues if not properly managed.

What Are the Different Types of Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

There are four main ways wisdom teeth can be impacted, depending on where they’re positioned in your mouth:

Mesial Impaction:This is the most common type, where the wisdom tooth is angled towards the front of your mouth. Mesial Impaction
Distal Impaction: This is the rarest type, occurring when the wisdom tooth is angled towards the back of your mouth. Distal Impaction
Vertical Impaction:Here,the wisdom tooth is positioned correctly for an eruption but remains trapped beneath the gums. Vertical Impaction
Horizontal Impaction: In this case, the wisdom tooth lies on its side beneath the gums. This type can be quite painful as it puts pressure on neighboring teeth. Horizontal Impaction

What Are The Symptoms Of Having Impacted Wisdom Teeth? 

Impacted wisdom teeth might not always be noticeable, but if they cause problems, you could have these signs:

  • Redness or swelling of the gums.
  • Sensitivity or bleeding of the gums.
  • Discomfort in the jaw region.
  • Swelling in the vicinity of the jaw.
  • Persistent bad breath.
  • Unpleasant taste sensations in the mouth.
  • Difficulty in fully opening the mouth.

It’s a good idea to see your dentist if you have any symptoms in the area behind your last molar that could be linked to an impacted wisdom tooth.

How Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth Treated?

If your wisdom teeth are causing issues or dental problems, your dentist might suggest having them removed.

The surgery to remove wisdom teeth is typically done as an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home on the same day.

This procedure, known as wisdom tooth extraction, is carried out by either a dentist or an oral surgeon.

During the procedure, your doctor may use different types of anesthesia:

  • Local anesthesia to numb your mouth
  • Sedation anesthesia to help you relax and manage pain
  • General anesthesia to put you to sleep and ensure you feel no discomfort during the procedure

The surgeon will make an incision in your gums, remove any problematic bone, and then extract the tooth. The incision is closed with stitches, and the area is packed with gauze.

The entire surgery usually takes between 30 to 60 minutes.

If your wisdom teeth are fully impacted and deeply embedded within your gums or jawbone, it may be more challenging for the surgeon to remove them compared to teeth that have erupted through the gum.

Complications Of Surgery

It’s normal to experience minor discomforts like swelling, bleeding, bruising, and pain following the extraction of wisdom teeth. While these are typically not severe, it’s important to be aware of potential complications, which may include the following:

  1. Dry Socket 

Sometimes, after having a wisdom tooth removed, a dry socket can develop. This happens when a blood clot doesn’t form properly in the socket or if it comes loose before the area heals. It’s quite common, occurring in up to 38% of cases.

A dry socket can cause significant pain, typically due to factors like not following post-surgery instructions, smoking, rinsing the area too soon, or disturbing the socket with the tongue.

  1. Nerve Damage

During the extraction procedure, nerves in the area can sustain injury. Depending on which nerve is affected, this can result in temporary numbness or even paralysis in the lip, tongue, or cheek. While often temporary, severe cases may lead to permanent damage.

  1. Adjacent Tooth Damage

In rare cases (around 1 in 100), individuals may experience lasting damage, such as adjacent tooth damage, as a result of the surgery. The likelihood of this complication depends largely on the complexity of the procedure.

  1. Fractures

Occasionally, removing a wisdom tooth can lead to fractures, particularly in the maxillary tuberosity (behind the upper wisdom tooth). In some cases, a fracture of the lower jaw (mandibular fracture) can occur during or shortly after the surgery, within about four weeks.


You can’t always stop wisdom teeth from causing problems. But going for your regular dental checkups every six months lets your dentist keep an eye on how your wisdom teeth are growing. By taking X-rays regularly, your dentist can spot any issues with impacted wisdom teeth before they start causing any trouble.

Closing Thoughts

Wisdom teeth can be a source of pain and discomfort for many people. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, especially around your back molars, it’s important to see a dentist to get a proper diagnosis and discuss treatment options.

Here at Coral Dental Care in Salem, MA, we understand the importance of wisdom teeth removal and offer a comfortable and professional environment for the procedure. Our experienced dentists are skilled in wisdom teeth extraction and will ensure you receive the best possible care.

If you’re a resident of Salem, MA, and facing wisdom teeth problems, don’t hesitate to contact Coral Dental Care. We can help! Call us at (978) 607-0110 to schedule an appointment today.

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