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Types of Wisdom Tooth Impaction and Their Treatments

Did you know that not all wisdom tooth impactions are alike? In fact, the third molars can become stuck in the mouth in a surprising number of ways.

tooth pain

Wisdom teeth that fail to erupt correctly are categorized as either soft-tissue or bony impactions, based on their position in the mouth. Soft-tissue impactions have penetrated the bone tissues but are unable to push through the gums. Bony impactions are mostly or completely encased within the jawbone.

In addition to their position within the mouth, wisdom tooth impactions are classified according to their angle. There are four types of impaction orientation.

Mesial Impaction

With mesial or mesioangular impactions — the most common type — the teeth are tilted forward tomesial-impactionward the front of the mouth. Though the angle of impaction dictates whether extraction is necessary, this orientation places significant pressure on the nearby second molars.


To avoid future oral health problems, our oral surgeons typically recommend removing third molars with mesial impactions.

Vertical Impaction

Vertically impacted wisdom teeth are normally angled (or almost normally) but are unable to push through the jawbone and gums. vertical-impaction

Our oral surgeons may recommend extraction if the teeth are bearing down on the neighboring molars or placing stress on the jawbone. We may also recommend removal to reduce the risk of gum disease, as keeping the third molars clean and bacteria-free can prove difficult for many patients.

Horizontal Impaction


Horizontal or traverse impactions are often considered the most painful and problematic. With this type of impaction, the wisdom teeth are parallel to the jawbone, lying on their sides deep within the gums or impacted in the bone tissue.Because horizontal impactions often damage the surrounding teeth, oral surgeons nearly always recommend their removal.

Distal Impaction


Distal or distoangular tooth impactions are the least common. Like mesial impactions, distally impacted teeth are tilted, but in these cases, they angle toward the back of the mouth. The angle of impaction determines whether extraction is necessary; however, our oral surgeons typically take a proactive approach and recommend removing these teeth to prevent future oral health problems.

Dealing with third molar impactions requires both skill and experience. In the greater Salt Lake City area, the oral surgeons of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah are the go-to experts for both routine and complex extractions.

Helping northern Utah patients for over a decade, Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield are specialists in the field of wisdom tooth management. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office and schedule a professional consultation to discuss your wisdom tooth impactions today.

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