In dental terms, an “impacted tooth” refers to a tooth that has not erupted when expected because it may not have enough room to grow, or it can be erupting in the wrong direction. An impacted tooth is simply a tooth that has been blocked from breaking through the gum for a distinct reason.
What causes an impacted tooth?
Impaction usually occurs in the third molars, also known as wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth begin to develop around the age of 9, and since they are the last teeth to erupt (usually between late teens and early 20s), they are more likely to impact because by then, the jaw has stopped growing and may be too small to have room for these four teeth. The second type of teeth to be impacted is the maxillary canine. Since these play an essential role in the mouth, the dentist may recommend treatments that encourage such teeth to erupt instead of removing them. These problems can be hereditary, so if a parent had an impacted tooth, their children might have the same issue.
What are the symptoms?
People may not always experience the following symptoms in some cases. They can reoccur over weeks or months:
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Pain while biting or chewing
- Sore throat
- Recurring headaches or jaw aches
Complications occurring from an untreated impacted tooth
Completely impacted teeth do not erupt through the gums. You cannot clean or care for them. However, if you have one or more partially impacted teeth, they can be tricky to clean. This raises their vulnerability for the following dental problems:
- The bone around the impacted tooth can weaken.
- Damage to neighboring teeth
- Cysts in the bone
- The alignment of other teeth can change.
- Higher risk of gum disease, infection, or tooth decay
How to identify impacted teeth?
After recognizing the symptoms, you should immediately consult a general dentist. If you are experiencing excessive tooth pain, then you should schedule an oral exam as soon as possible. The dentist will identify the unmistakable signs of impacted teeth using an X-ray for proper diagnosis. The impacted tooth may not be visible above the gums. Nonetheless, the dentist can recognize it and refer it to an oral surgeon for immediate treatment.
What is the treatment for impacted teeth?
- Waiting and monitoring – Instead of surgically removing the impacted tooth, the dentist will regularly monitor it to see if any other problems develop. This will be easy to do if one goes for regular dental checkups.
- Surgery – The dentist may recommend extraction surgery if one is experiencing too much pain along with other side effects from an impacted tooth or if it is adversely affecting other teeth. The surgery is a simple outpatient procedure, and the patient can go home the same day of the procedure. It usually takes 45 to 60 minutes. The recovery may take 7 to 10 days.
- Eruption aids – Such aids may be used to enable the canine teeth to erupt properly. These include braces, brackets, or extracting baby or adult teeth that may be blocking the canines. These are more effective for younger people.
If you suspect you have an impacted tooth, contact our dental experts at Plaza Dental Group in West Des Moines. We offer complete dental care solutions, including general dentistry and much more, at affordable prices. For more information, please visit our website.