Is My Tooth Impacted?

An impacted tooth is a tooth which has not fully erupted through the gums. The tooth has not properly grown into the correct position. Impacted teeth which are not treated in a timely manner can cause serious dental issues and health problems.

Impacted teeth may be caused by something such as baby teeth which are blocking the tooth’s movement. In other cases, the mouth is too small and does not have enough room for the teeth. This causes the teeth to become stuck, partially emerge through the gums, or be completely impacted below the gums.

Patients may have one tooth or multiple teeth which are affected by impaction. The number of teeth which are affected by impaction will vary based on the cause of impaction and how they erupt. It is possible for a patient to have impacted baby teeth, but not have any issues with impaction of their adult teeth or vice versa.

The wisdom teeth are the teeth most commonly impacted. Because there is not enough room in the mouth, these teeth often fail to properly grow in. It is common to have impacted wisdom teeth removed when the patient is in their late teens or early twenties. It is helpful to remove during this timeframe as the roots of the teeth have not yet matured, making the extraction and healing process easier.

Impacted teeth typically do not cause severe pain. The teeth should be closely monitored during routine dental visits to ensure they are not causing any problems. Impacted teeth can cause issues such as discomfort, damage or shifting of the other teeth, and other health problems. Patients who do not have any symptoms may not need to have their impacted wisdom teeth removed.

Common causes of impacted teeth are summarized below:

* Twisted tooth or a tooth which grew in at an angle, making it difficult to fully erupt
* Overcrowded teeth which do not accommodate the new tooth
* Small jaw or lack of space for the new teeth
* Tooth is too big for the available space
* Genetic predisposition
* Damaged baby tooth which can negatively impact how the adult tooth erupts

Patients have baby or primary teeth and adult or secondary teeth. It is possible for one or both types of teeth to be impacted. It is common for the adult teeth to be impacted from a delay in the loss of baby teeth or due to incorrect growth. In some cases, the patient may have enough room to accommodate the wisdom teeth. When there is adequate room, the teeth can erupt normally and without any issues. For many patients, however, the wisdom teeth are impacted due to a lack of room in the mouth.

The impacted teeth may be visible or below the gums. It is possible for the teeth to partially erupt and then get stuck or be fully embedded in the gums. X-rays are commonly used to properly understand the location and positioning of the teeth.

Signs and symptoms associated with impacted teeth can include the following:

* Foul taste in the mouth or bad breath
* Gums which are swollen, red, or tender
* A gap where the tooth should be
* Delayed or early loss of baby teeth
* Head or jaw aches
* Pain when opening the mouth
* Challenges with chewing or opening the mouth

Patients who have any of the above symptoms should contact their dentist for evaluation. The dental professional will complete an examination and obtain x-rays. This will help determine the specific location and position of the teeth and provide insight if there are any concerns. In many cases where patients have a symptom from an impacted tooth, it is best to extract the tooth. Removing the tooth can help avoid damaging the other teeth and prevent other issues.

Tooth Impaction_ Symptoms and Treatments