There are many reasons why an impacted wisdom tooth (or third molar) fails to emerge; for example, the jaw may not be large enough to accommodate any additional teeth. A wisdom tooth can also become displaced, tilted or twisted as it tries to emerge, and impaction is the result.
Common Problems with Wisdom Teeth
A tooth that is just partially emerged may trap plaque, food, and other debris in the surrounding soft tissue, and this can cause the gums to become inflamed and tender. Bad breath may be another consequence when a tooth is impacted. The complications that can arise include an abscess of the gums or teeth, infection, chronic discomfort, and faulty alignment of the teeth.
Here are some other problems wisdom teeth can cause:
- Other teeth may become damaged if a third molar pushes against them. This can result in the crowding of other teeth and interfere with any orthodontic treatment for tooth straightening the patient is undergoing.
- Since the wisdom tooth develops in a sac inside the jawbone, it may become filed with fluid and form a cyst, which can cause damage to the teeth, nerves and jawbone.
- Apparently an impacted wisdom tooth is more susceptible to tooth decay because it is harder to clean and food and bacteria may become trapped between the tooth and the gum. It is also more susceptible to pericoronitis, a painful, inflammatory gum disease.
If extraction of a wisdom tooth becomes necessary, complications may also arise after having the procedure, although this is relatively rare, They include the following:
- Dry socket, in which the post-surgical blood clot becomes dislodged and the jawbone is exposed .
- Infection caused by trapped food particles or bacteria.
- Damage to the sinuses, which are located close to the upper third molars.
- Deterioration of the jawbone.
- Damage to nerves, resulting in altered sensation in the chin, tongue, or lower lip.
“Impacted tooth: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2010. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001057.htm.
“Impacted wisdom teeth: Complications – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/wisdom-teeth/DS00679/DSECTION=complications.
“Impacted wisdom teeth: Treatments and drugs – MayoClinic.com.” Mayo Clinic medical information and tools for healthy living – MayoClinic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 July 2010. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/wisdom-teeth/DS00679/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs