Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are a unique part of human dental anatomy. For most of us, wisdom teeth emerge as we enter adulthood, though they can cause complications in many cases. Impacted wisdom teeth are the culprit of crowding and discomfort, and if left untreated, can lead to other dental issues. Let’s explore the causes and symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth and our treatment options at the Oral and Facial Surgery Insitute. 

What Are Wisdom Teeth? 

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars located at the back of the mouth. In ancient times, these teeth served a crucial role in helping our ancestors chew tough foods. However, as our diets have evolved, so did the need for these teeth. Today, wisdom teeth are often regarded as vestigial structures (structures with no apparent function and appear to be residual parts from a past ancestor) that can lead to oral health issues. Each patient’s situation is different. Dr. Davis will usually take a panoramic X-ray to determine whether your wisdom teeth are impacted or not. 

What Does It Mean for Wisdom Teeth to be Impacted? 

Impacted wisdom teeth don’t fully emerge or erupt through the gum line for various reasons. The lack of space in the mouth or an abnormal angle of eruption can lead to this condition. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it remains partially or completely trapped within the jawbone or gum tissue. 

Signs and Symptoms of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms. Patients may experience pain, swelling, and tenderness in the back of the mouth. These symptoms might also lead to difficulty opening the mouth fully, affecting daily activities like eating and speaking. Additionally, impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to gum infections and damage to neighboring teeth. In some cases, teeth may begin to shift, indicating that treatment should occur sooner rather than later. If you’re experiencing discomfort at the back of your mouth, schedule a consultation with Dr. Davis today. 

Types of Impaction

Wisdom teeth impaction comes in various forms: 

  • Mesial Impaction: The tooth is angled towards the front of the mouth.
  • Distal Impaction: The tooth is angled towards the back of the mouth.
  • Vertical Impaction: The tooth is blocked from fully erupting. 
  • Horizontal Impaction: The tooth lies on its side, pushing against neighboring teeth. 
  • Angular Impaction: The tooth is positioned at an angle between vertical and horizontal. 

Diagnosing Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Dental professionals like Dr. Davis diagnose impacted wisdom teeth through thorough clinical examinations and X-rays. Regular dental check-ups are essential to catch impaction, as early detection can prevent further complications. Typically, your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon for removal. Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure for Dr. Davis as we help many patients from St. George, Cedar, Mesquite, Kanab, Page, and other nearby communities. If you are searching for wisdom teeth removal in Southern Utah, contact the Oral and Facial Surgery Insitute to schedule a consultation. 

Potential Complications

If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can lead to cyst formation, infection, and damage to surrounding bone and teeth. These complications have a lasting impact on overall oral health and require more extensive treatment. 

  • Infection: If your wisdom teeth don’t fully emerge, the difficulty cleaning impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth increases the risk of developing a painful, inflammatory gum condition called pericoronitis
  • Cysts: The wisdom tooth develops in a sac within the jawbone. The sac can fill with fluid, forming a cyst that could potentially damage the jawbone nerves, nerves, and teeth. This complication may require the removal of affected tissue and bone. 
  • Decay: Partially impacted wisdom teeth appear to be at higher risk of tooth decay (cavities) than other teeth. This occurs because wisdom teeth are harder to clean based on their location in your mouth and the likelihood of food and bacteria getting trapped between the tooth and gums. 

Treatment Options

The primary treatment for impacted wisdom teeth is extraction. Oral surgeons like Dr. Davis assess the impaction type and develop a tailored surgical procedure to remove the impacted teeth. Extraction helps prevent future problems and minimizes discomfort like swelling, inflamed gums, and pain associated with impacted teeth. 

You can contact our St. George office for an evaluation with Dr. Davis today. Our dental and surgical staff would happily discuss your situation and develop a tailored plan.


Impacted wisdom teeth are a common dental concern that can lead to significant discomfort and complications if not addressed promptly. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options, you can make an informed decision about your oral health. If you suspect you have impacted wisdom teeth or want to learn more about your oral health, contact the Oral and Facial Surgery Institute. Our experienced staff are here to provide personalized care and solutions tailored to your needs. Schedule a consultation to ensure the health of your smile for years to come.