Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Wisdom teeth, a.k.a. your third molars erupt at a later stage. People typically get them between the ages of 17 and 24 (for some even a bit later). Once you get them, you know your chompers are finally complete.

The problem with wisdom teeth is, they are among the biggest teeth that come out of a person’s gums. And because they are the last to “come to the party,” there is usually not enough space for them anymore. This is why they have the tendency to grow off the proper alignment of teeth, or they do not come out of the gums entirely.

When wisdom teeth are impacted – meaning, there’s not enough room for them at the back of the mouth, so they come out misaligned or they do not fully come out – they can create great discomfort.


Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth place constant pressure on surrounding teeth. Listed below are the common types of discomfort people with impacted wisdom teeth feel:

  • Severe headaches
  • Earaches
  • Facial pain
  • Swollen and tender gums (pericoronitis)
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath

Other Difficulties Created by Impacted Wisdom Teeth

The aforementioned types of discomfort are not the only difficulties a person with impacted teeth can experience. There are other risks that rise to the surface such as the higher potential for developing serious periodontal disease.

The heightened risk of developing gum disease is due to certain reasons:

1. Location

Being located at the far back of the mouth, most toothbrushes are simply not designed to easily fit into or reach the cramped space.

A lot of people even end up gagging from attempting to do so.

2. Misaligned growth

The shifting of perfectly aligned teeth is also another issue. With the gums getting crowded, teeth naturally move out of their original positions. For those who wore braces before getting their wisdom teeth, the years of correcting alignment or bite with braces can be undone in a matter of a year.

Teeth that are not aligned properly are also prone to developing cavities.

With their weird angles and tighter spaces, tooth brushing often fails to properly get rid of stuck food debris. Flossing also becomes difficult in these areas so cavity-causing bacteria get to proliferate quickly and damage the teeth.

3. Improper oral hygiene

As already mentioned, proper tooth brushing and flossing are simply too tricky to execute when it comes to wisdom teeth. Because of this, mouth bacteria can breed fast and cause infection. This infection can lead to abscesses along the gum line, which can eventually create air pockets between the teeth and gums.

People with sinus problems can also become more prone to infection and congestion due to impacted wisdom teeth. What’s the connection? Although it happens rarely, when the wisdom teeth grow, they can end up pushing or rubbing against the sinuses thereby exerting pressure on them. This, in turn, can lead to headaches, sinus pain and congestion.

Treatments for Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Nobody has to suffer the effects of impacted wisdom teeth for a long time because there are dental treatments available. You just need to pay your dentist a visit to determine the most suitable treatment for you so your mouth can feel normal again.

The best dental treatments to address this issue are:

1. Wisdom teeth extraction

You have already seen videos on YouTube featuring people behaving oddly after having their wisdom teeth extracted and they probably gave you big laughs. But, wisdom teeth extraction is perhaps the most effective solution to get rid of the pain and discomfort associated with impacted wisdom teeth.

The procedure is not the same for everybody. For some, surgery is crucial to the procedure because of the position of the teeth. This takes a much longer time to execute and can sometimes be more painful – something which many people dread.

However, with modern or advanced dental techniques, the discomfort has been significantly reduced. The duration of the procedure is shorter and patients feel little to no pain during extraction. The recovery period is shorter as well, as long as patients comply with their dentist’s orders.

It is important to note that the timing of extraction has an impact on the procedure as well. Most dentists agree that wisdom teeth, especially impacted ones, should be removed while a person is still young. This does not only ensure faster recovery, the likelihood of complications is lower, too, because young people are generally healthier and more resilient.

2. Braces

Orthodontic braces have also proven to be an effective treatment especially if a patient has lost a tooth or a couple. The braces will help ensure that the wisdom teeth shift into proper alignment without compromising the position of the other teeth.

Interesting Facts About Wisdom Teeth

  • A lot of dental professionals believe that the case for impacted wisdom teeth stems from changes in the human diet. As people started eating softer food, human jaws started to shrink. Shrunken jaws meant smaller spaces which could no longer accommodate the complete set of human teeth.
  • Studies show that nine out of ten people have at least a single impacted wisdom tooth.
  • Research reveals that there is a growing number of people in a few parts of East Asia that do not get wisdom teeth. This phenomenon is attributed to the fact that these people have a diet and culture that do not require strong chewing. Therefore, their body has also evolved.
  • Evolutionists also believe that technology is a likely contributor to the changes within the human mouth. As it continues to make life more comfortable and convenient, humans will have a reduced need to exert physical effort. The body can naturally adapt and the composition of the human mouth can be the first to change. Wisdom teeth, eventually, may no longer grow.

Whether or not people will stop growing wisdom teeth, nobody can disregard the fact that impacted wisdom teeth are a problem for many. They can cause great discomfort so it is imperative for those afflicted to find relief.

If you are suffering from the ill effects of having impacted wisdom teeth, see your dentist as soon as possible.

Do not delay in setting an appointment with your dentist to have this concern examined. A dental professional is the only person who can appropriately address the discomfort, pain and complications created by impacted wisdom teeth.


Dr. Michael Letham is the owner and dentist at 24/7 Dental and Bayside Smiles. He graduated from Sydney University in 2000 with Honours, receiving the R Morse Withycombe Prize for Proficiency in Clinical Periodontics (gum treatment). Striving to provide a modern, holistic approach to dental care that is tailored to each individual’s requirements, Mike’s focus is on being thorough and meticulous whilst being caring and compassionate.

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