Impacted wisdom teeth can cause several problems in the mouth:

  • Damage to other teeth. If the wisdom tooth pushes against the second molar, it may damage the second molar or make it more vulnerable to infection. This pressure can also cause problems with crowding of the other teeth or orthodontic treatments to straighten other teeth.
  • Cysts. The wisdom tooth grows in a sac within the jawbone. The sac can fill with fluid, forming a cyst that can damage the jawbone, teeth and nerves. Rarely, a tumor — usually a noncancerous tumor — develops. This complication may require removal of tissue and bone.
  • Decay. Partially impacted wisdom teeth appear to be more vulnerable to tooth decay (caries) than other teeth. This probably occurs because wisdom teeth are harder to clean and because food and bacteria get easily trapped between the gum and a partially erupted tooth.
  • Gum disease. The difficulty of cleaning impacted, partially erupted wisdom teeth also makes them a vulnerable site for the development of a painful, inflammatory gum condition called pericoronitis (per-ih-kor-o-NI-tis).
Apr. 11, 2012

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