Impacted Wisdom Teeth Removal
What is an Impacted Wisdom Tooth?
An impacted wisdom tooth is one that gets blocked as it's pushing through the gum into your mouth (erupting). It is common for wisdom teeth to be impacted.
An impacted wisdom tooth can be painless. You may not even realise it's there. However, when an impacted wisdom tooth tries to come through, the flap of gum on top of it can become infected and swollen. This can hurt. You might even feel pain in nearby teeth, or in the ear on that side of your face.
An impacted tooth can lead to an infection called pericoronitis (where the gum tissue surrounding the top of the tooth becomes inflammed and infected). If untreated, this infection can spread into your throat or neck. Severe infections require a hospital stay and surgery.
Impacted wisdom teeth can also become decayed. It can push on the molar in front of it causing unwanted tooth movement, decay or gum disease of this other tooth. It also can change the way your teeth come/bite down together.
- Pain and /or swelling of the gum in the back of your mouth
- Difficulty opening your jaw
- Bad breath
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Pain when you open your mouth
- Pain when chewing or biting
Your dentist will examine the area. Usually an OPG (full mouth X-ray will be needed). This will show you the number of wisdom teeth you have (not everyone has all four) and also their position and whether they are impacted. It will also show the relation of your lower wisdom teeth roots in relation to the large lower jaw nerve (the inferior dental nerve) which is usually nearby. For the upper wisdom teeth, their position will be assessed usually in relation to your maxillary sinuses. If there appears to be complexities (numerous/twisted roots, awkward positioning or close proximity to sinuses or nerves) a 3D scan of your jaw and teeth may be required.
If the tooth continues to cause pain, is infected or interferes with nearby teeth, the usual treatment is to remove it.
Extracting one tooth can be straightforward or complex depending on your individual situation. An infection will require antibiotics.
An impacted wisdom tooth may not bother you or affect nearby teeth. In this case, you won't need immediate treatment. However, your dentist probably will recommend that the tooth be taken out to avoid future problems.
Many people have all four of their wisdom teeth taken out at once.
Note: Depending on the complexity of the impacted wisdom tooth removal, we may have to refer you to the Oral Surgeon Specialist to have the treatment completed. Your OPG (Orthopantomogram) and a referral letter will be forwarded to the specialist via email.