Impacted wisdom teeth are third molars at the back of the mouth that don't have enough room to emerge or develop 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.
March 31, 2015
- Wisdom teeth management. American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. http://myoms.org/procedures/wisdom-teeth-management. Accessed March 9, 2015.
- Mettes TG, et al. Surgical removal versus retention for the management of asymptomatic impacted wisdom teeth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD003879.pub3/abstract. Accessed March 9, 2015.
- Wisdom teeth. MouthHealthy.org. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/w/wisdom-teeth. Accessed March 9, 2015.
- Coulthard P, et al. Surgical techniques for the removal of mandibular wisdom teeth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004345.pub2/abstract. Accessed March 9, 2015.
- Postextraction problems. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental_disorders/dental_emergencies/postextraction_problems.html. Accessed March 9, 2015.
- Gingivitis. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental_disorders/periodontal_disorders/gingivitis.html?qt=Wisdom%20teeth&alt=sh. Accessed March 9, 2015.
- Toothache and infection. The Merck Manual Professional Edition. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dental_disorders/symptoms_of_dental_and_oral_disorders/toothache_and_infection.html?qt=Wisdom%20teeth&alt=sh. Accessed March 9, 2015.
- Bouloux GF, et al. What is the risk of future extraction of asymptomatic third molars? A systematic review. Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. In press. Accessed March 9, 2015.
- Salinas TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 17, 2015.