Impacted Wisdom Teeth

What is an impacted tooth?

Although most people develop and grow 32 permanent adult teeth, many times their jaws are too small to accommodate the four wisdom teeth. When inadequate space prevents the teeth from erupting, they are called impacted wisdom teeth.  This indicates their inability to erupt into the proper position for chewing and cleaning.

A diagram half mouth X-ray with teeth impaction and half digital graphic highlighting impacted teeth

Types Of Impactions

A consultation will be necessary to determine if you would benefit from having your wisdom teeth removed.  A special x-ray of your mouth and jaws (panorex) will be taken to determine if your wisdom teeth are impacted, whether there is room for the teeth to erupt, and the type of impaction.

  • Soft Tissue Impaction: There is not enough room to allow the gum tissue to retract for adequate cleaning of the tooth.
  • Partial Bony Impaction: There is enough space to allow the wisdom tooth to partially erupt.  However, the tooth cannot function properly in the chewing process, and creates cleaning problems.
  • Complete Bony Impaction: There is NO space for the tooth to erupt.  It remains embedded in the jaw bone or if even partially visible, requires complex surgical techniques for removal.  The impacted wisdom tooth may also be in an unusual position and difficult to remove.  This situation can also arise when the shape or size of the jaw bone and other facial structures make removal of this tooth significantly more complex.
A representation of a wisdom tooth impacted by soft tissueSoft Tissue
An example of a wisdom tooth with a partial bony impactionPartial Bony
An illustration of a wisdom tooth completely impacted by boneComplete Bony