Rockwall Oral Surgery

How Wisdom Teeth Become Impacted

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of molars that typically emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood. While these teeth can serve a valuable function when properly aligned, they often become impacted, causing various dental issues. In this blog, we will delve into the causes of impacted wisdom teeth and explore potential solutions, shedding light on this common dental concern.

The Anatomy of Wisdom Teeth:

To understand how wisdom teeth become impacted, it’s essential to grasp their anatomy and the normal eruption process. Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars, located at the back of your mouth, with two on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw. These teeth typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25, although the timeline can vary among individuals.

Causes of Impacted Wisdom Teeth:

Lack of Space

One of the primary reasons for impacted wisdom teeth is insufficient space in the jaw to accommodate their eruption. As a result, these teeth may not be able to fully emerge or align properly, leading to impaction. The jaw size in modern humans has evolved over time, often making it challenging for wisdom teeth to find sufficient space.

Incorrect Angle

Wisdom teeth may also become impacted if they grow at an angle that prevents them from emerging correctly. Common angles of impaction include horizontal, vertical, or diagonal positions, causing the teeth to become trapped within the jawbone or adjacent teeth.

Late Eruption

In some cases, wisdom teeth may erupt later than expected. Delayed eruption can lead to impaction because the available space for these teeth may decrease as you age. Late-emerging wisdom teeth have a higher likelihood of encountering obstructions in their path.

Common Types of Impactions:

Mesial Impaction

This is the most common type of wisdom tooth impaction, where the tooth grows at an angle toward the front of the mouth, causing it to collide with the second molar.

Vertical Impaction

Vertical impaction occurs when the wisdom tooth grows straight up, but it doesn’t have enough space to fully emerge from the gumline.

Horizontal Impaction

Horizontal impaction is characterized by the wisdom tooth growing horizontally, often pushing against the adjacent tooth or the jawbone.

Distal Impaction

In distal impaction, the wisdom tooth tilts backward toward the rear of the mouth, causing it to face away from the second molar.

Problems Associated with Impacted Wisdom Teeth:

Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to various complications, including pain, infection, and damage to adjacent teeth. It’s crucial to address these issues promptly to maintain oral health and prevent further complications.

  • Pain and Discomfort
  • Infection
  • Damage to Adjacent Teeth
  • Cysts and Tumors

Treatment Options for Impacted Wisdom Teeth:


In some cases, if impacted wisdom teeth are not causing pain or other problems, your dentist or oral surgeon may choose to monitor their progress. Regular dental check-ups and X-rays can help determine if intervention is necessary.


The most common solution for impacted wisdom teeth is extraction. This procedure is typically performed by an oral surgeon under local anesthesia or sedation. Extraction prevents further complications and alleviates pain and discomfort associated with impacted teeth.

Impacted wisdom teeth are a common dental issue that can lead to pain, infection, and other oral health problems. Understanding the causes of impaction and recognizing the associated risks is crucial for timely intervention. If you suspect you have impacted wisdom teeth or are experiencing any related symptoms, it’s essential to consult with an experienced oral surgeon or dentist. They can assess your condition, provide appropriate treatment options, and ensure your oral health remains optimal.