Impacted wisdom teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth are third molars at the back of the mouth that don't have enough room to emerge or grow normally.

Wisdom teeth are the last adult teeth to come into the mouth (erupt). Most people have four wisdom teeth at the back of the mouth — two on the top, two on the bottom.

Impacted wisdom teeth can result in pain, damage to other teeth and other dental problems. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth may cause no apparent or immediate problems. But because they're hard to clean, they may be more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease than other teeth are.

Impacted wisdom teeth that cause pain or other dental complications are usually removed. Some dentists and oral surgeons also recommend removing impacted wisdom teeth that don't cause symptoms to prevent future problems.

Symptoms Causes Complications

Impacted wisdom teeth don't always cause symptoms. However, when an impacted wisdom tooth becomes infected, damages other teeth or causes other dental problems, you may experience some of these signs or symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Bad breath
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Headache

When to see a doctor

See your dentist if you experience pain, swelling or other symptoms in the area behind your last molar that may be associated with an impacted wisdom tooth.

Keep all regularly scheduled dental appointments for cleanings and checkups. Regularly updated dental X-rays may indicate impacted wisdom teeth before any symptoms develop.

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