What are Impacted Wisdom Teeth? Signs and Symptoms

wisdom tooth pain

An impacted wisdom tooth is one that fails to erupt because it doesn’t have room. If you’re wondering why this is such a common problem, it’s because over the course of human history, our lower jaws have shrunk significantly. Things like overbites and problems with wisdom teeth never used to exist. Some wisdom teeth erupt just fine, and they’re simple to remove. But an impacted tooth is a bit more complicated. Here are a few signs you have an impacted wisdom tooth:

  • Tender, inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Difficulty making basic mouth movements like opening and closing
  • Jaw pain and/or swelling
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

Why do I need Impacted Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Impacted wisdom teeth may never cause any symptoms or problems. But they might, even if it’s not until years down the line. The reason oral surgeons perform wisdom teeth extractions is more preventative than anything, because it’s way easier to remove wisdom teeth at age 18 than age 35. Here are some health issues impacted teeth can cause to help understand why you should get them checked out and removed, even if you don’t currently have any symptoms:

  • Tooth misalignment: A tooth is impacted because it has no room to erupt. Instead, it will move at an angle, pushing other teeth around and potentially damaging them.
  • Risk of cavities: If your gums are inflamed, it can leave pockets between the teeth and gums, making hygiene difficult and increasing risk of bacterial infection.
  • Sinus problems: Your oral and olfactory (sinus) systems are intricately linked. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pressure and pain, as well as chronic congestion.
  • Jaw damage: Since the tooth can’t erupt, as it tries to move cysts can form around it. These can get bad enough to wear away the jaw bone as well as cause nerve damage.