Impacted Teeth (Wisdom

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to develop in the mouth. They tend to appear during the late teens or early twenties. Many people live their whole lives with healthy, fully developed wisdom teeth without pain. However, the misalignment or impact of wisdom teeth commonly leads to a medical recommendation of extraction.

Misaligned wisdom teeth are often positioned horizontally or angled toward or away from the teeth and may cause damage to the surrounding teeth or jaw, resulting in pain. These teeth may be hard to clean because of their positioning, allowing plaque and other debris to build up, which can lead to decay or infection of the teeth or surrounding tissue.

Impacted wisdom teeth are those that either do not break through the gums or remain trapped in the jawbone or surrounding tissue due to the lack of space in the dental arch. Bacteria may build up around a partially erupted wisdom tooth, which may lead to an infection and painful swelling, stiffness of the jaw or other illnesses. Partially erupted teeth are prone to tooth decay and gum disease. 
  • Extraction of wisdom teeth is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures.
  • Wisdom teeth typically emerge between the ages of 17 and 25.
  • It is estimated that approximately 85 percent of third molars (wisdom teeth) will eventually need to be removed.

Removing Wisdom Teeth
Extractions of wisdom teeth can normally be performed as an outpatient procedure in the office of one of Houston Methodist’s oral and maxillofacial surgeons. This procedure occurs under local anesthesia, general anesthesia or intravenous sedation. The ease of removal for the wisdom teeth depends on a number of variables, including root development and the position of the teeth. Some wisdom teeth may require a more involved surgical procedure.

Wisdom teeth should be removed before symptoms progress, which can lead to a less-complicated healing process. As the patient grows older, wisdom teeth roots become longer, making extraction more difficult and allowing for more complications. Additionally, researchers have found that older patients may be at risk for periodontal disease and other infections.

After surgery, some swelling or mild discomfort may occur, so your physician may recommend cold compresses to reduce swelling, pain medication and a modified diet.


Our physicians at Houston Methodist specialize in treating impacted teeth at the following convenient locations: