Wisdom teeth are the molars found at the very back corners of your mouth. They’re usually the last of your teeth to erupt, with the average person developing them in their late teens or early twenties. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), in 85% of wisdom teeth removal cases, extraction is required because of  crowding of the teeth. The other scenario is from impacted wisdom teeth, where the molars are trapped in the gums and can lead to serious dental problems such as:

  • Intense pain
  • Tooth decay
  • Recurring infections
  • Misalignment of your other teeth
  • Cyst formation around the impacted tooth

A recent AAOMS study indicates that timing is key when considering wisdom teeth removal. Tooth extraction when a patient is a young adult ensures optimal healing and prevents any future problems. In fact, the results show that older patients have a higher risk for oral disease, including periodontitis, in the tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth. Such infections not only affect the health of the mouth but also a patient’s overall well-being.

At Macleod Trail Dental, our experienced and friendly team of Calgary dentists will always screen for wisdom teeth during your regular checkups. However, in between these appointments, here are three warning signs you should watch out for which may indicate that you are dealing with an impacted wisdom tooth.

Unusual Pain

Impacted wisdom teeth can be painless and you may not even know that they are there. However, when such a tooth tries to erupt, it usually produces a feeling of intense pressure or a dull throbbing at the back of your jaw. This pain will increase over time as your wisdom teeth continue to grow sideways, pressing down on the surrounding nerve and bone and crowding out your other teeth. It’s important to catch such symptoms early to prevent any intense long-term pain which can lead to pulsating headaches, earaches and jaw aches.


Impacted wisdom teeth often result in an infection of your gum tissue called pericoronitis. The partial eruption of this third molar creates an opening in which bacteria and food particles can become trapped. If the bacteria and plaque remain there, they may cause inflammation and infection of the surrounding gum area, leading to pericoronitis. Symptoms of this dental disorder include:

  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in the back of your mouth
  • Inability to open your mouth fully
  • Swelling of gums behind your back teeth
  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling on the affected side of your face

While this infection can be treated temporarily by washing the area around the impacted tooth and taking antibiotics, the infection will return in intervals until the impacted tooth is removed.

Development of a cyst

The most serious sign of an impacted wisdom tooth is the development of a cyst around the tooth. All teeth develop from a hollow ball of tissue called a follicle. As the tooth erupts through the gum, the follicle will disappear. However, if the wisdom tooth remains stuck within the bone then cysts may develop from this follicle. These cysts are usually benign but can result in the destruction of your jawbone and any adjacent healthy teeth. Early removal is highly recommended to avoid these  problems and to decrease the  risk associated with the wisdom teeth removal procedure. surgical

Annual dental appointments and x-rays are very successful in catching impacted teeth before they begin to show symptoms or develop into more serious problems. If you are experiencing any of these impacted wisdom teeth symptoms, book an appointment with one of our Calgary dentists today by calling us at 403-253-1248 or email us at info@macleodtraildental.ca.