2 Common Problems When Wisdom Teeth Emerge

Wisdom teeth located in the back of your mouth usually grow in during the teenage years – long after the other adult teeth have grown in to replace fallen baby teeth. The late appearance and the rearmost positioning are two reasons that wisdom teeth tend to cause problems. Here are some common problems that can occur when wisdom teeth emerge – and land you in the office of an oral surgeon or dentist.


Wisdom teeth don't always come straight out the gum into the open spot. The teeth often come in at an angle causing what's known as an impaction or an impacted tooth. This type of growth means that the tooth either doesn't come out from the gum all the way or stays entirely buried in the gums and/or bone. Sometimes this doesn't cause any problems, but there are a host of problems that can occur even years after the tooth becomes impacted.

Impaction can cause dental infections, which can cause enormous amounts of pain in the rear of the mouth. The crooked growth of the tooth can also put excess pressure on the neighboring, healthy tooth and cause it to shift positions. This can set off a chain reaction that leads to multiple teeth leaning, causing a misaligned bite. For these reasons, oral surgeons often recommend surgically removing all of the wisdom teeth as soon as one shows impaction.

Dental Infection

The appearance of wisdom teeth can cause dental infections for a few different reasons. First, the emerged tooth might be so close to the neighboring tooth and the rear of your mouth that you can't properly brush or floss around the new wisdom tooth. Over time, your natural mouth bacteria can cause decay and infection around the site.

A partially emerged tooth will often retain a flap of skin above it that would've moved out of the way for the full tooth. Food and bacteria can become trapped under that flap to cause infections. It's also possible to develop a cyst on that flap or around the emerged tooth, which can also cause infection if left untreated. A dentist can prescribe antibiotics to treat a dental infection but you may have to undergo oral surgery to keep the problem from returning.

Consult your dentist as soon as you begin to feel any pain or discomfort in the back region of your mouth, particularly if you are in your late teens. (For more information, contact William C. Gardner, DDS, PA)