What Are Impacted Wisdom Teeth?

Woman has tooth pain

While dentists always strive to prevent tooth loss, it is sometimes necessary to remove one or more of them to preserve the health of the rest of the smile. While this can be done because a tooth is injured or decayed beyond any hope of recovery, it is often because there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate new teeth or because a tooth is not coming in properly. A common example of this is how many people have their wisdom teeth removed. Here’s an overview of why your wisdom teeth may be growing in sideways and what can be done to address the issue.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth that a person gets in their lifetime. These third molars usually erupt when a person is between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, and it is common to have complications during the process. While these large molars can cause chronic pain or alter alignments by crowding other teeth, they can sometimes fail to erupt properly, making them more vulnerable to infection. If one of your third molars is coming in horizontally or fails to completely emerge from the gum, it is considered to be an impacted tooth.

Why Are My Wisdom Teeth Coming in Sideways?

In many cases, a patient will not have enough room in their mouth for their wisdom teeth to come in properly. These stubborn molars will do their best to force their way through the gums, and they can come in horizontally or crookedly or they may fail to emerge completely, making them impacted. Impacted teeth are more vulnerable to injury and infection because they do not align with the rest of the bite properly and they can provide shelter for harmful bacteria inside of the gum. This can lead to gum disease or decay that can spread to other teeth, causing further tooth loss.

Do I Need to Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

While experiencing discomfort when your wisdom teeth come in does not necessarily mean that they need to be removed, they usually require extraction if they are impacted. Leaving impacted teeth in the gums can lead to severe and painful oral health consequences down the road and removing them can spare a patient a lot of illness and misery. However, only a dentist can make a final call as to whether a tooth needs to be extracted or not, and they will not recommend extraction without excellent reason.

About the Author

Dr. Roman Kotlarek earned his Doctorate of Dental Surgery from The University of Texas Health and Science Center in San Antonio and has taken Northeast regional and Texas board examinations. He is proud to be a member of the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association, and the American Society of Dental Aesthetics. His office in Houston, TX offers general, cosmetic, restorative, and emergency dentistry as well as wisdom tooth extractions. For more information on why extraction can be necessary, contact the office online or dial (281) 920-4200.