Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars are the last teeth to grow into the mouth. Often times there isn’t enough room to accommodate these teeth in the human jaw, leading to tooth impaction and its associated problems. Impacted teeth can be partially erupted into the mouth, completely erupted into the mouth, or not erupted at all. No matter the type of impaction, you may experience any of the following complications.


When a tooth is partially impacted like the picture to the right, an infection could develop underneath the flap of gum tissue. Bacteria is usually controlled by the body, but when the host’s defenses are down, (e.g., during minor illnesses like the cold, flu, respiratory infection, emotional or physical stress), infection can occur. Food particles can also become trapped under the tissue, leading to infection and cavities. And the opposing wisdom tooth of the top teeth can end up chewing on the tissue as well.

Pericoronitis partially covered wisdom tooth


When the wisdom tooth is partially impacted and wedged against the adjacent tooth like the radiograph to the right, it can create a food trap. Due to the difficulty in cleaning the area, cavities can and will develop not only on the wisdom tooth itself, but on the adjacent tooth as well. The location of the cavity is often too deep to treat effectively, and the tooth may end up requiring a large restoration like a crown. Also, if the cavity become large enough, the tooth can require a root canal and even worse, an extraction.

X ray of tooth with impacted wisdom tooth

Damage to Adjacent Tooth

The impacted wisdom tooth can exert pressure on the adjacent tooth. In such a case, the adjacent tooth may end up going through resorption, which will be catastrophic and lead to an extraction. The radiograph shows such a case, where the adjacent tooth is heavily affected by the impacted wisdom tooth.

xray of a wisdom tooth crowding out other teeth

To avoid any problems associated with impacted wisdom teeth, it is a good idea to evaluate and treat as early as possible. Dr. Howard Kim’s several years of experience as an oral surgeon allows him to provide the safe and gentle treatment that all patients seek.