Skip to main content

Signs of impacted wisdom teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth are third molars that are unable to break through the gumline and grow into place due to the size of your jaw or the angle of the tooth. If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to potentially serious oral health issues, including damage to your other teeth, infection and severe discomfort. If you think you might have one or more impacted wisdom teeth, here are the signs and symptoms to look for:

Teeth are partially erupted

Wisdom teeth can either become impacted fully below the gumline or they can begin to erupt from the skin and then get stuck. If you can feel the top of a third molar with your tongue or see it in the mirror but it isn’t coming in fuller over time, there’s a good chance it’s impacted in place. Partially erupted but impacted wisdom teeth can be troublesome as they are prone to infection due to the small flap of gum tissue that covers the edges of the tooth and can trap food particles or bacteria.

Gums are swollen, tender or bleeding

Inflamed or bleeding gums behind your final molar can be caused by a wisdom tooth trying to come in when there isn’t enough room.

Swelling of the jaw or general jaw discomfort

A strong throbbing feeling in your jaw and unexplained swelling could be caused by impacted wisdom teeth.

Difficulty eating, speaking or opening your mouth

A tightness in your jaw that prevents you from chewing normally and makes it difficult to open your mouth all the way can be a sign that something is wrong below your gum line.

Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

Persistent bad breath that does not go away with brushing, flossing or rinsing with mouthwash can be a sign that you have a bacterial infection.

When to make an appointment with your dentist or oral surgeon

If you are experiencing one or more signs of impacted wisdom teeth, make an appointment with your dentist or oral surgeon for an examination. In many cases, it will be recommended that impacted wisdom teeth are extracted right away.

Should I have my wisdom teeth extracted if they are not impacted?

If your dentist or oral surgeon finds that your wisdom teeth are not impacted, they will make a recommendation on removing your wisdom teeth as a preventative measure or waiting to see if they grow in naturally, depending on the results of your examination.