Third molars are commonly referred to as wisdom teeth. They are usually the last teeth to develop and are located in the back of your mouth, behind your second molars. Their development is usually completed between the middle teenage years and early twenties, a time traditionally associated with the onset of maturity and the attainment of wisdom.

There are 3 different kinds of impacted wisdom teeth.

Soft Tissue Impaction: this occurs when the crown of the tooth has penetrated through the bone, but the gum is still covering part of the tooth.

Any kind of impaction is a problem for oral health, but soft tissue impaction contributes to specific oral health concerns. When a tooth is partially submerged under the gingiva, debris and bacteria can become trapped on a tooth’s surface under the gum. Since the tooth is partially under the gums, its surfaces cannot be cleaned. This scenario leads to heightened risk for dental carries, abscesses, and periodontal disease.

Partial Bony Impaction: is when the tooth has partially erupted, but part of the tooth remains submerged in the jawbone. This can cause over crowding of the other teeth. Some of the issues that you might have are inflammation and swelling of the overlying gum tissue surrounding the teeth. These wisdom teeth are normally more difficult to remove than erupted or soft tissue impacted wisdom teeth. They also tend to cost more as well.

Complete Bony Impaction: this means the wisdom tooth was not able to grow out of the jawbone and there is no space for the tooth to erupt. This will require complex surgical techniques for removal. Impacted wisdom teeth do not always show symptoms. You could have impacted teeth and not even realize it. If symptoms do arise, it is usually the result of the gum on top of the tooth becoming infected or swollen.

Retaining your wisdom teeth can cause more than just increased risks for infections and decay. Emerging wisdom teeth can cause your teeth to shift out of place, which contributes to orthodontic and occlusal issues. Teeth might become overlapped, crowded, and crooked once wisdom teeth emerge. In fact, some patients need orthodontic treatment to correct issues caused by the arrival of wisdom teeth.

Your dentist or an Oral Surgeon can examine your mouth and x-rays to determine if wisdom teeth removal is needed.