Wisdom Teeth: Why Do They Become Impacted?

Wisdom teeth are the last set of permanent molars to develop in the mouth. These teeth generally begin to erupt or grow into place between the ages of 16 and 21. By this age, most adults have reached an age of physical maturity and the jaw bone ceases to grow.wisdom-teeth_impacted

It is during this complicated time that the wisdom teeth can become symptomatic. Since these teeth are positioned at the very rear of the mouth, there is often a lack of space to accommodate these teeth. The wisdom teeth also have an inherent tendency to grow sideways, backwards, or even diagonally.
The term “impacted” is really an incomplete description of the condition. Your oral surgeon will need to perform a thorough evaluation using a clinical examination and x-rays in order to determine the status of the teeth. Teeth that are completely encased in the bone are termed “boney impacted.” Teeth that erupt only halfway through the gum tissue and bone are termed “partially impacted.”  A large percentage of the population will be diagnosed with one or more impacted wisdom teeth during their lifetime. Your oral surgeon will need to determine if the impaction poses a risk to your health.
When wisdom teeth are boney impacted and angled towards the neighboring teeth, damage to the surrounding bone and tooth roots can occur. Occasionally, a cyst may develop around the impacted tooth, putting patients at risk for unnecessary health complications. A wisdom tooth that is only partially impacted may be even more troublesome. A tooth that is partially concealed by gum tissue and bone is much more difficult to keep clean. Unfortunately, failing to keep all areas of the mouth free from food particles and plaque bacteria can result in a number of complications. Tooth decay, gum disease, inflammation, and halitosis can become unpleasant and uncomfortable realities.

We may never know exactly why wisdom teeth become impacted. No matter the reason, it is fortunate that your oral surgeon is prepared to address your concerns. To find out if your wisdom teeth have become impacted, contact Wisdom Teeth Specialists of Utah serving Sandy and Salt Lake City residents at 801-943-8703 today.