Medically reviewed by: Maher Jandali DMD, MD

Male Model for Wisdom TeethIf you suffer from dental anxiety of any kind, you might be surprised to learn how many people are just like you. It is estimated that somewhere between 50 and 80% of American adults suffer from some level of dental anxiety.

It is a common issue that can result in avoidance of any kind of dental procedure, big or small, even if that means dealing with significant discomfort or other oral health issues.

However, avoiding dental procedures can potentially incur even worse oral health problems. A great example of a common dental procedure that is best not delayed is wisdom tooth removal.

Many people who have impacted wisdom teeth may put off removing them for various reasons. But it is important to avoid delaying this dental procedure in order to prevent a range of consequences.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

This issue may not be a medical emergency, but that does not mean it cannot affect your quality of life significantly. An impacted wisdom tooth can be difficult to clean properly, which can cause food debris to become trapped around it. Plaque will then develop in the area, resulting in bad breath that is not easy to rid yourself of.


Impacted wisdom teeth can emerge in a variety of angles, some of which can cause the impacted wisdom teeth to push into the teeth next to them. This can create significant tooth discomfort, which can eventually find its way to your ear, jaw, and face and even result in headaches.


When your wisdom teeth are prone to collecting food debris and developing plaque, that also leaves them susceptible to multiple types of infections, such as:

Gum Disease

Bacteria can collect in those hard-to-reach areas around your impacted wisdom teeth and cause gum disease. This condition has a variety of unpleasant symptoms, including gum recession, gum inflammation, tooth sensitivity, dental abscesses, loose teeth, and tooth loss.

Advanced gum disease has even been connected to serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s.


Another infection common among those with impacted wisdom teeth is pericoronitis. Symptoms of pericoronitis include:

  • Swelling of the gum tissue
  • Bad breath
  • Discomfort around the tooth or when swallowing
  • Swelling of the face
  • Fever

Tooth Decay

Because impacted wisdom teeth can be difficult to clean, they are far more susceptible to tooth decay. Food debris and plaque in those unseen areas can slowly erode tooth enamel and allow a cavity to form. Because wisdom teeth are positioned in the back of the mouth, spotting decay before it has a chance to develop is not always easy.


When a wisdom tooth is unable to emerge fully from beneath the gum line, it can lead to the development of a cyst. These cysts can not only be uncomfortable, but they can also damage your teeth, as well as the surrounding bone and soft tissue. The cyst can also eventually develop into a tumor, which will then require extraction.


Sometimes, impacted wisdom teeth can push the neighboring teeth forward and create tooth overcrowding. Other times, even when the wisdom teeth come in straight, there is simply not enough room in the mouth to contain them, so overcrowding occurs.

This can result in misaligned teeth and teeth that are more difficult to clean, which are, therefore, more susceptible to tooth decay.

The Wisdom Tooth Removal Procedure

If you anticipate an upcoming wisdom tooth removal, try not to worry. The procedure is quick and simple, and there is generally very little discomfort.

You will also receive a local anesthetic and possibly even some form of sedation, which will help make the procedure as smooth and comfortable as possible.

If your wisdom tooth has emerged completely, your doctor may only require forceps to remove it. If the tooth is impacted or not fully emerged, they will likely have to make a small incision in the gum to gain access to the tooth root. After that, they will remove the tooth in small sections, clean the area, and stitch it back up.

The period of recovery from wisdom tooth removal should only be a few days. Your doctor will give you a list of instructions and possibly a prescription for light medication.

Learn more about wisdom tooth removal and other dental procedures from Oral and Facial Surgery of Naperville.