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. They most often erupt (emerge through the gums) during a person’s late teens or twenties.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Very often the jaw area is too small to accommodate a fully developed set of wisdom teeth. This means that they often become impacted (unable to fully erupt).
Types of Impactions:
- Soft Tissue Impaction
- Partial Bony Impaction
- Complete Bony Impaction
Pressure from the erupting wisdom teeth may move other teeth and disrupt the orthodontic or natural alignment of teeth. When they partially erupt, the opening around the teeth allows bacteria to grow and set up the likelihood of infection. The most serious problems occur when tumors or cysts develop around the impacted wisdom teeth, causing harm to the jawbone or adjacent healthy teeth. Even if wisdom teeth have fully erupted, they are often hard to reach and clean properly. This can lead to tooth decay and other problems.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause complications including:
- Cyst or tumor formation
- Gum disease
- Decay in the wisdom teeth and nearby teeth
- Interference with certain kinds of dental or orthodontic work
If your wisdom teeth are causing you pain or infection, your dentist will likely advise having them removed. The wisdom teeth may cause acute (sudden) problems, chronic (ongoing) problems, or no problems at all. Even if you don’t have symptoms, removal may still be recommended. Extracting the teeth before symptoms develop can prevent or reduce future complications.