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Impacted wisdom teeth commonly occur in dental patients during young adulthood.  Since wisdom teeth grow in at the back of the mouth, it’s tough for patients to see exactly what’s going on. You might be at risk of impacted wisdom teeth and not know it until you begin to experience discomfort. It’s natural to wonder what impacted wisdom teeth can cause and how a dentist can help diagnose and treat any problems.


What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars, the last set of teeth to come in for adults, usually around early adulthood or the late teen years (ages 17-25, for most people).

For some people, wisdom teeth come through without a hitch. For many others, however, wisdom teeth might grow at the wrong angle, or there isn’t enough space to accommodate them. If the wisdom teeth cannot erupt through the gums, this can lead to impacted wisdom teeth.


What can impacted wisdom teeth cause, and how does it feel?

Impacted wisdom teeth occur when your wisdom teeth can’t break through your gums. When your teeth can’t completely cut through your gums, they get stuck in the gumline. This can cause painful consequences for the rest of your mouth, sometimes leading to infection, gum disease, and even headaches. Impacted wisdom teeth can force the teeth around them to move slightly, setting off the alignment of your other teeth.


Partially impacted wisdom teeth

A wisdom tooth that only breaks through the gum part-way is called a partially impacted wisdom tooth. A partially impacted wisdom tooth can trap food debris and bacteria in the gumline toward the back of the mouth. Because the back of the mouth is difficult to see and challenging to clean, this means partially impacted wisdom teeth are prone to infection. Infected partially impacted teeth can cause the following complications:

  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty opening your jaw
  • A painful or swollen jaw
  • A rancid taste in the mouth
  • Bleeding, swollen, or red gum
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

Additionally, partially impacted wisdom teeth can cause rapid tooth decay in neighbouring teeth because of the build-up of bacteria and food particles on and around the partially impacted tooth.

Damage to other teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause your other teeth to shift, making them harder to clean, which can result in tooth decay and gum disease.

For instance, even if wisdom teeth don’t push through the gumline all the way, they might still push up against the roots of your molars.

They might push your molars closer toward your next set of teeth, causing them to twist and become crooked.

If you’ve spent time and money on braces or another teeth-straightening cosmetic procedure, some or all of that hard work can be erased by the problems impacted wisdom teeth cause. 



Impacted wisdom teeth can cause gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, because of plaque build-up. The symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Pus between the tooth and gums 
  • A pocket between the tooth and gums 
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Halitosis, or foul breath 
  • Gums that are tender to the touch 
  • Receding gums, which make the teeth look longer 



The jaw pain caused by impacted wisdom teeth can lead to headaches, which can cause neck and shoulder tension. Many young people who experience pain from impacted wisdom teeth may experience severe localised pain in the jaw. This might make it harder to sleep, concentrate, or study. 


Dental cysts

Dental cysts are sacs of tissue that often form near the tips of the roots of dead teeth, the crowns of buried or impacted teeth, or the roots of impacted teeth. 

Typically, dental cysts are associated with either dead teeth or impacted teeth. Teeth can die due to infection, so cysts can form at any stage of the wisdom teeth impaction process. 

Dental cysts can cause a number of problems, including: 

  • Dental cyst infection 
  • Weakened jaw
  • Cramped teeth, sometimes pushing or shoving teeth in wrong directions
  • Inhibited function of teeth, gums, and jaw 

Some dental cysts can lead to surgery if they become severe. 


Final thoughts

If you suspect that you or your child have impacted wisdom teeth, don’t wait. It’s always better to get an evaluation from a skilled dentist. Avoid potential complications, discomfort, and headaches by keeping up with your regular dental check-ups and asking about the status of your wisdom teeth.

Call Dapto Dentists today on (02) 4210 9058 or fill out the online contact form to book your appointment today.

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