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Impacted Wisdom Teeth: Symptoms and Treatment

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a host of problems, ranging from minor annoyances to serious threats to your oral health.


If you’re visiting the dentist or oral surgeon regularly, you’ll know from your dental X-rays if you have impacted wisdom teeth.

However, if you haven’t had an oral health examination for some time, you might not be aware of what’s going on with your third molars. If you can recognize the signs of potential wisdom tooth impaction, you can seek out the recommended treatment before you develop serious problems.

Common Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

When the third molars are impacted, it means they’re stuck in the gums and cannot erupt completely.

Wisdom tooth impaction doesn’t always create obvious symptoms — some patients are unaware they have a problem until they see the X-rays. However, many patients with impacted teeth share common symptoms such as:

  • Swollen, red or bleeding gums
  • Tenderness and pain at the tooth site
  • Swelling and discomfort in the jaw
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Foul breath
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth

Treatment for Impacted Wisdom Teeth

For patients suffering from the symptoms of wisdom tooth impaction, extraction is the recommended treatment. Removing impacted teeth is an in-office procedure done under anesthesia. In most cases, oral surgeons allow patients to choose oral sedation, laughing gas or intravenous (IV) anesthesia.

Tooth extraction is also the recommended treatment for patients with impacted teeth that aren’t yet causing symptoms or problems.

Impaction can lead to a series of related dental problems, including decay, gum disease, infection, cyst formation and damage to other teeth. Because of these increased oral health risks, oral surgeons almost never advise patients to keep impacted third molars in place.

Can Wisdom Tooth Impaction Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, no, wisdom tooth impaction cannot be prevented. No dentist or oral surgeon has the magic to make third molars emerge properly.

That said, keeping regular appointments for oral health checkups and cleanings allows your dental professional to monitor the growth and eruption of your wisdom teeth. And if your X-rays indicate tooth impaction, the third molars can be removed before any symptoms start to develop.

Are your wisdom teeth showing signs of impaction? Or are you due for a regular oral health examination? For expert care in the greater Salt Lake City area, visit Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah.

With more than 10 years of experience, our board-certified oral surgeons are specialists in wisdom tooth management. With offices in Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan and Tooele, making an appointment with Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah is easy and convenient. Contact us today and schedule a consultation to learn more about seeking treatment for impacted wisdom teeth.

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