Impacted wisdom teeth are third molars at the back of the mouth that don't have enough room to emerge or grow normally.
Wisdom teeth are the last adult teeth to come into the mouth (erupt). Most people have four wisdom teeth at the back of the mouth — two on the top, two on the bottom.
Impacted wisdom teeth can result in pain, damage to other teeth and other dental problems. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth may cause no apparent or immediate problems. But because they're hard to clean, they may be more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease than other teeth are.
Impacted wisdom teeth that cause pain or other dental complications are usually removed. Some dentists and oral surgeons also recommend removing impacted wisdom teeth that don't cause symptoms to prevent future problems.
Apr. 11, 2012
- Wisdom teeth. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. http://www.aaoms.org/wisdom_teeth.php. Accessed Feb. 21, 2012.
- Marciani RD. Third molar removal: An overview of indications, imaging, evaluation, and assessment of risk. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America. 2007;19:1.
- Bagheri SC, et al. Extraction versus nonextraction management of third molars. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America. 2007;19:15.
- Haug RH, et al. Evidenced-based decision making: The third molar. Dental Clinics of North America. 2009;53:77.
- Gingivitis. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental_disorders/periodontal_disorders/gingivitis.html. Accessed Feb. 22, 2012.
- Caries. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental_disorders/common_dental_disorders/caries.html. Accessed Feb. 22, 2012.
- Kandasamy S, et al. The wisdom behind third molar extractions. Australian Dental Journal. 2009;54:284.
- Farish SE, et al. General technique of third molar removal. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America. 2007;19:23.
- Postextraction problems. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental_disorders/dental_emergencies/postextraction_problems.html. Accessed Feb. 23, 2012.
- Dental anxiety. American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/3102.aspx. Accessed Feb. 23, 2012.
- White RP Jr., et al. Evaluation and management of asymptomatic third molars: Lack of symptoms does not equate to lack of pathology. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. 2011;140:10.
- Kandasamy S. Evaluation and management of asymptomatic third molars: Watchful monitoring is a low-risk alternative to extraction. American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. 2011;140:11.
- Carr AB (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 22, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.