Reviewed by Dr. Trevor Allen, DDS

Wisdom teeth impaction is a common problem faced by many individuals when their permanent adult teeth develop and fail to erupt due to lack of arch space. It can lead to various oral health issues and discomfort if left untreated.

In this blog post, we will discuss each of these types, their causes and symptoms, and how to recognize the early signs.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaway

There are 4 types of wisdom tooth impaction: mesial, horizontal, vertical, and distal. Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial to prevent potential complications. AZ Max Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery offers comprehensive care for all types of wisdom tooth impactions.

Types of Wisdom Tooth Impaction

There are four types of wisdom tooth impaction: mesial, horizontal, vertical and distal impaction.

Mesial Impaction

This type of impaction occurs when the tooth starts to grow at an angle pointing toward the front of the mouth. Mesial impactions are also referred to as “angular impactions.” 

Mesial impaction is the most common type of wisdom tooth impaction. Often times, it is beneficial to remove these teeth before they cause symptoms or irreversible problems.  

Horizontal Impaction

A horizontal impaction is when the tooth grows sideways, remaining partially or fully trapped under the gum tissue

This type of impaction can cause several oral health problems, including gum inflammation, periodontal bone loss, infection, and damage to the adjacent second molar tooth root. 

Oral surgery is required to remove the impacted tooth, preventing damage to nearby teeth and maintaining optimal oral health.

Vertical Impaction

Vertical impaction is when the wisdom tooth is in the correct position but fails to break through the gum tissue entirely

Surgery is required if the erupted tooth is exerting pressure on the adjacent tooth, is causing gingival inflammation or is causing overcrowding. Oftentimes even if these teeth are in a fairly “normal” position, it can be very difficult to perform daily oral hygiene of these teeth. If a tooth is partially erupted through the gum tissue, food and bacteria can easily be trapped under that tissue, leading to potential inflammation, infection, pain, and decay.

Distal Impaction

A distal impaction is the opposite of mesial impaction. In this case, the tooth grows at an angle pointing towards the back of the mouth and may be fully or partially impacted. 

These types of impactions can be notorious for an inflammatory process called pericoronitis and most likely need to be removed due to ongoing symptoms or for prevention of pathology. 

Recognizing Early Signs and Managing Discomfort

It is best practice that your dentist monitor the growth and development of your wisdom teeth. Early referral to an oral surgeon is best to avoid symptoms and problems before they start. 

It’s essential to recognize the early signs of wisdom tooth impaction and seek appropriate treatment from a qualified oral surgeon promptly. 

Symptoms of wisdom teeth impaction may include, but are not limited to:

  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Difficulty opening your mouth wide
  • Swelling and tenderness in the gums around the impacted tooth
  • Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth

To manage the discomfort caused by impacted wisdom teeth, you can try the following:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water to reduce inflammation
  • Applying ice packs to the affected area to reduce swelling
  • Eating soft foods to minimize pressure on the impacted tooth

Treatment for Impacted Wisdom Teeth

The treatment for impacted wisdom teeth depends on the severity and type of impaction. In most cases, oral surgery is required to extract the impacted tooth.

If caught early on, your wisdom teeth can be monitored to prevent further complications. However, if left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to severe oral health issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, and even damage to nearby teeth.

If surgical extraction is needed, your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia, general anesthesia, or IV sedation.

AZ Max Oral Surgery – Your Oral Surgeon in Mesa AZ

At AZ Max Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we understand the discomfort and potential complications that come with impacted wisdom teeth. Our team of experienced oral surgeons is dedicated to providing personalized care and effective treatment for all types of wisdom tooth impactions.

If you would like to be referred to one of our surgeons at AZ Max Oral Surgery, have your dentist complete our online patient referral form. When we receive the referral, we will contact you to book an appointment. If you are searching for ‘wisdom tooth extraction near me’ or ‘the best wisdom tooth removal near me’, trust the experts at AZ Max Oral Surgery—call or text (480) 830-5866 to book an appointment or complete the online booking form.