Windsor Centre For Advanced Dentistry

Problems with your wisdom teeth? 5 Signs they might be impacted

Wisdom teeth are also known as third molars, wisdom teeth are the last teeth to grow in the mouth, usually coming through in adulthood. Because there often isn’t enough space in the mouth for the wisdom teeth, they may not erupt properly by the time they emerge. This can result in impacted wisdom teeth.

When your wisdom teeth start to break through your gums, it’s natural to experience some pain. But if your wisdom teeth are impacted, they can cause significant problems and may have to be removed.

What is an impacted wisdom tooth? 

Impacted wisdom teeth are extremely common. They are wisdom teeth that don’t have enough room to break through the gum into the mouth. Usually they emerge between the ages of 17-25. 

Some people never have any problems and emerge behind the second molars. But for some impacted wisdom teeth are more likely to cause disease, tooth decay, and other dental problems. 

There are several different types of impacted wisdom teeth, depending on how they grow:

Mesioangular impaction 

Where the wisdom tooth grows towards the front of the mouth. 

Vertical impaction 

The wisdom tooth does not break through the gum into the mouth. 

Distoangular impaction 

The wisdom tooth grows towards the back of the mouth. 

Horizontal impaction 

The wisdom tooth grows at a 90-degree angle into the roots of the neighbouring molar. 

What causes an impacted wisdom tooth? 

Usually impact is caused by: 

  1. A lack of space in the mouth 
  2. Teeth breaking through the gums at a different angle
  3. Genetics 

5 Signs of impacted wisdom teeth 

Although some people with impacted wisdom teeth don’t experience any issues or symptoms at all, others may encounter physical problems. If you do experience any of these, you should consult a dentist.

Jaw pain 

If you are experiencing pain towards the back of the jaw, this can indicate that there is a problem with your wisdom teeth. Pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can also radiate to other areas of the head and face.

Changes within your mouth 

If you notice any changes within your mouth, such as throbbing pain around the tooth, red gums, jaw swelling, swollen red bleeding gums or bad breath, it’s important to visit your dentist urgently as they can be signs of infection.


Suddenly developing headaches, along with other symptoms, can be a sign of an issue with your wisdom teeth.

Problems chewing 

If you’re experiencing pain when you chew or find your mouth doesn’t open as it normally does, this can signify impacted wisdom teeth.

Bad breath 

Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to infection which can, unfortunately, cause a foul or rotten taste in your mouth. This often leads to bad breath.

Removing impacted wisdom teeth 

If your wisdom teeth are impacted and causing issues, then your dentist may recommend removing them to avoid any further complications.

The removal procedure is known as a wisdom tooth extraction and may be carried out at a dental hospital by a dental surgeon.

During the removal, you will receive a local, sedation, or general anaesthetic, depending on how complex the procedure is. The surgeon will start by making a cut in your gum to expose the tooth and the surrounding bones. They will then remove the tooth and any problematic bone, before closing the incision with stitches.

Recovery time 

After wisdom tooth extraction, it can take up to six weeks for your mouth to heal fully. However, most people can return to all their normal activities within a couple of days.

You may experience some pain, bleeding and swelling while your mouth heals. Many people also find that they can’t open their mouths properly for around a week after surgery, so you may only be able to eat soft foods that are easy to chew during this time.

Untreated wisdom teeth 

If your wisdom teeth are impacted and aren’t removed, it can lead to problems such as:

  • Cavities
  • Infection
  • Decay
  • Overcrowding
  • Damage to other teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Cysts
  • Nerve damage 
  • Pericoronitis 

Impacted wisdom teeth vs non-impacted 

It’s important to note that not all wisdom teeth are impacted. So how do you know if your wisdom teeth are impacted or not?

Impacted wisdom teeth are stuck under the gum or can only partially break through the gum. They aren’t fully visible in the mouth. Non-impacted wisdom teeth, on the other hand, are completely visible as they have erupted through the gum.

Impacted wisdom teeth are more likely to need removal, but it’s important to remember that non-impacted wisdom teeth can cause problems too.

If you’re unsure if your wisdom teeth are impacted, your dentist will be able to tell you, usually by carrying out an x-ray.

If you have impacted wisdom teeth or are experiencing problems with your wisdom teeth, please get in touch for an evaluation.

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