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What Is An Impacted Wisdom Tooth?

 Wisdom Tooth Impaction Kelowna Dentist

Your third molars, or “wisdom teeth,” are the teeth at the very back of your mouth. They develop in your early teenage years while the jaw is still growing, and often the room necessary to allow them to come into the mouth properly is unavailable. When third molars get “stuck” completely or partially below the surface we call them “impacted.” So why would we remove them? For several reasons:


  1. Infections: impactions can create a pocket of gum tissue that collects food and bacteria, causing recurrent infections that can cause fever and pain. In extreme cases these infections can be life threatening as they can compromise your ability to breathe or open your mouth. These infections can become more severe when they reoccur, as the pocket of bacteria erodes the bone behind the tooth and enlarges with each abscess.

  2. Damage to adjacent teeth: an impacted wisdom tooth can cause damage to the molar in front of it, either by absorbing the root surface of the tooth or through forming a cavity. Sometimes an impacted tooth can cause so much damage that both teeth need to be removed.

  3. Bone defects: certain types of impacted wisdom teeth can cause loss of bone behind the second molar. If the wisdom tooth is extracted that defect can sometimes improve with time as the bone fills in the area of loss.

  4. Pathology: cysts and tumours can form around teeth that have been impacted for a long time. If the cyst continues to grow it can move other teeth nearby and erode part of the jaw bone.

  5. Facilitate orthodontic treatment: if an orthodontist needs to push teeth towards the back of the mouth to gain room for teeth in the front, the wisdom teeth may be in the way of that process.

  6. Prevention of jaw fracture: if the wisdom tooth is surrounded by only a very thin shell of jaw bone, it may create an area of weak bone that could predispose a person to jaw fractures.


So there are many reasons to remove wisdom teeth, and unfortunately a large number of people do not have room for them! The best time to remove any teeth is when you are young and healthy - the recovery time is much shorter and less complicated. 

Wisdom tooth Kelowna Dentist

For example, this patient that was seen last week at our office had recurrent infections on a wisdom tooth that was impacted back towards the jaw bone. The xray above shows loss of bone behind the tooth caused by the infection. It was removed very easily and the patient felt little to no pain afterwards. The benefit to him choosing to do this procedure now is that because he is young and healthy he will recover quickly, and have no risk of future complications caused by this tooth.


If you think you may have impacted wisdom teeth that may need extraction, call us (250-762-3563) today to book a consultation.


Our dental office is open for evening appointments on Tuesday!

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