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Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Teeth that are "impacted" are unable to erupt fully into the mouth. Some impacted teeth are completely covered by overlying bone and gum, while other teeth partially erupt into the mouth but are prevented from erupting fully by the overlying bone, gum, or adjacent teeth.

The teeth that are most commonly impacted are the third molar or "wisdom" teeth, which frequently are unable to erupt into position when all the other teeth are present. They may play a role in causing crowding of teeth, especially the lower front teeth.

Impacted teeth are best removed in the teens or early twenties, as the surgery is easier before root development is complete and healing is more rapid in younger patients. When removal of impacted wisdom teeth is delayed to a later age, complications are more likely.

Impacted teeth are removed as they cause a variety of problems such as:

  • Infection of the surrounding gum and bone, jaw cyst formation
  • Damage to the roots of adjacent teeth.
  • Partially erupted impacted teeth can predispose to caries (decay) in adjacent, sound teeth.