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Are My Wisdom Teeth Impacted?

Are My Wisdom Teeth Impacted?

Wisdom teeth are your third set of molars, and they’re the last teeth to grow in, usually erupting between ages 17-25. While it’s possible for them to grow into a jaw large enough to accommodate them, most people only have room for 28, not 32, teeth. Without enough space to emerge completely, they instead become impacted, caught between the jaw and the gum line.

Fortunately, wisdom teeth are expendable if they need to be extracted, as they serve no purpose for our modern diet, which contains a lot of softer foods than our ancestors had available. We also have the ability to cut tougher food into smaller pieces that are easily handled by our first two sets of molars.

But how do you know if you have impacted wisdom teeth? At Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi in Flowood, Dr. Michael Nichols and our staff can diagnose impacted wisdom teeth with an oral examination and X-rays, and predict if you have or will have problems with them. If we see an issue, we may perform an extraction to ensure your mouth stays healthy and your remaining teeth have the space they need to do their jobs. Here, we share the warning signs of an impaction, so you’ll know when to seek out medical help.

Types of wisdom teeth impaction

Wisdom teeth fall into four basic categories, based on their position in the mouth:

  1. Full-bony impacted: the tooth is completely stuck in the jaw
  2. Partial-bony impacted: the tooth is partly stuck in the jaw
  3. Soft-tissue impacted: the tooth is stuck just under the gum
  4. Erupted: the tooth has fully erupted; may need to be removed if they overcrowd other teeth

Wisdom teeth impaction symptoms

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a number of symptoms that let you know there’s a problem.

Swelling, infection, and damage

When a wisdom tooth is impacted, you often experience significant swelling, pain, and infection of the gum tissue, all of which must be treated. Impacted wisdom teeth can also damage nearby teeth and bone, so you may need to have them surgically removed to prevent additional problems.

Impacted teeth are more difficult to remove than other teeth, and they put you at greater risk for complications from the extraction the older you get. This does not mean, though, that you shouldn’t get them extracted. The longer the pain persists, the more likely you’ll develop an infection from bacteria entering open tissue. These types of oral infections not only affect your mouth, but they can also have a negative impact on your general health.


Wisdom teeth pain is different from regular tooth eruption pain, which presents as an achy feeling in the gum tissue above the emerging tooth. Wisdom teeth pain can radiate into your jaw and into nearby teeth affected by the pressure placed upon them.

Other notable symptoms include redness and swelling of the gums around the tooth, bad breath, or an unpleasant taste when you chew. 

Impacted wisdom teeth also put you at risk for fluid-filled cysts, which form around the tooth. These can permanently damage your jaw bone as well as your other teeth.

In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth may not cause any overt symptoms. But because they're hard to clean, they’re more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease than your other teeth, so Dr. Nichols may choose to extract them to preserve your overall oral health.

Wisdom teeth removal

If you need to have one or more wisdom teeth removed, Dr. Nichols gives you specific preoperative and postoperative instructions.

Our office staff has the training, experience, and licensing to provide various types of anesthesia, from local to sedation. Our office facilities, Surgical Care Team, and our doctors are inspected by the Board of Dental Examiners on a regular basis to ensure your complete safety during this and any other procedure. We also use state-of-the-art sterilization and infection control techniques at all times.

The extraction procedure takes about 30-60 minutes, and technological advances allow patients to have teeth removed in a manner that promotes rapid healing and minimal post-operative discomfort.

If you’re experiencing pain and other symptoms where your wisdom teeth will be, there’s a good chance they’re impacted. Your best course of action is to contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi and set up a consultation with Dr. Nichols. Give our office a call at 601-282-9290 today.

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