The name sounds like an exciting rite of passage for young adults: your wisdom teeth growing in your mouth. But unfortunately, the name doesn’t usually bring what it says it does. Wisdom teeth are often problematic for people when they come in, and you’ll often be told by your dentist that they should be removed. 

What are impacted wisdom teeth? 

The teeth known as wisdom teeth are your third molars. They’re the last permanent teeth that will grow in your mouth. The reason they’re more tricky instead of wise is that they do not have much room to grow since they’re located in the back of the mouth, growing into the last available space. 

What are 5 common problems with impacted wisdom teeth? 

When they are positioned in a crooked or sideways direction in your jaw, your wisdom teeth will not be able to grow into your mouth correctly. If that has happened to you, you’re in the majority. The American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons says nine out of every 10 dental patients have at least one impacted tooth. Here are some issues that can arise if you have one or more impacted wisdom teeth: 

  • Tooth decay: Impacted wisdom teeth can very easily become decayed because it’s hard to reach them when you’re brushing your teeth. 
  • Tooth infection: Just like tooth decay, impacted wisdom teeth are more prone to infection because they don’t get brushed enough. 
  • Healthy teeth damage: Impacted wisdoms can – and often will – push up against the other teeth in your mouth – namely your second molars. This can cause damage to healthy teeth. 
  • Gum disease: Bacteria from your hard-to-reach wisdom teeth can lead to gum disease. Even mild gum disease can lead to more serious periodontitis, and eventually that bacteria can enter your bloodstream and cause complications to your heart or other organs. 
  • Cysts and tumors: Sometimes, fluid-filled cysts or tumors can form in the area near your impacted wisdom teeth. This can lead to jawbone damage, nerve damage and problems with other teeth. 

When should you remove impacted wisdom teeth? 

It’s likely that your dentist will recommend that you have impacted wisdom teeth removed even before they begin to cause problems. It’s easier to remove them when you’re younger and the roots aren’t as deep as they are when you’re older. 

When should you keep your wisdom teeth? 

If you’re that lucky one person out of every 10 whose mouth is big enough for your wisdom teeth to fully form without causing problems, congratulations! Just make sure your dentist checks them out and determines they’re not impacting your bite. Your dentist will ultimately give you the all-clear on whether you should keep your wisdom teeth. 

Do you have more questions about wisdom teeth? Discuss them at your next appointment at Dr. Chauvin’s office. Click here for more information.