What is an Impacted Tooth?
An impacted tooth is a tooth that has not appropriately erupted through the gum tissue. This is a common dental problem that can damage surrounding tissues. If left untreated, the impacted tooth may push out the neighbouring tooth.
Types of Tooth Impaction
Depending on the affected tooth and its position, there are different types of tooth impaction.
Upper teeth are more likely to be impacted than lower teeth. The most common type of impacted tooth is the third molar (wisdom tooth). Other types of impacted teeth include:
- Maxillary canine (eyetooth)
- Lateral incisor
The impacted tooth type can be confirmed by checking the angle of the tooth.
- Partial eruption: The tooth partially erupts through the gum tissue.
- Angular impaction: The tooth is closer to the neighbouring tooth.
- Horizontal impaction: The tooth is positioned horizontally in the jawbone.
- Vertical impaction: The tooth is positioned vertically in the jawbone.
- Buccal impaction: The tooth is positioned towards the cheek.
- Palatal impaction: The tooth is positioned towards the roof of the mouth.
- Complete eruption: The tooth has not erupted at all and is entirely covered by gum tissue.
- Soft tissue impaction: The tooth has pierced through the gum tissue but is blocked by soft tissue.
- Hard tissue impaction: The tooth has pierced through the gum tissue but is blocked by bone.
What Causes Impacted Teeth?
There are several reasons why teeth may become impacted. The most common cause is crowding. When there isn’t enough space in the mouth for all teeth, some may get pushed up into the gum tissue or fail to erupt. Other causes include:
- Genetics: Some people are born with small mouths, which can crowd teeth and cause them to become impacted.
- Trauma: An injury to the mouth can damage the tooth’s root, preventing it from growing properly.
- Dental procedures: Teeth may be pulled (extracted) during childhood to create more space in the mouth. This can sometimes cause the remaining teeth to shift and become impacted.
- Poor oral hygiene: Plaque buildup can harden into calculus (tartar). This can prevent teeth from erupting or cause them to become impacted.
How Do You Know Your Tooth is Impacted?
An impacted tooth may not cause any symptoms. But in some cases, it can lead to:
- Pain: When the tooth begins to erupt, it may put pressure on the surrounding gum tissue and nerves, causing pain.
- Infection: If plaque and tartar are not removed from around an impacted tooth, they can cause an infection.
- Gum disease: Plaque and tartar buildup can also cause gum disease.
- Cysts: Fluid-filled sacs may form around impacted teeth. These cysts can damage the tooth’s root and surrounding bone if left untreated.
If you experience any of these symptoms, see your dentist right away. They will be able to diagnose an impacted tooth and recommend treatment.
Treatment for Impacted Teeth
Treatment aims to prevent the tooth from becoming damaged or infected. In some cases, this may mean extracting the tooth. But if the tooth is healthy and there’s enough space in the mouth, your dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment to move the tooth into proper alignment.
Orthodontic treatment can be used to:
- Move a partially erupted tooth back into place
- Guide an unerupted tooth into the correct position
- Prevent teeth from becoming impacted in the first place
Orthodontic treatment is usually successful in moving impacted teeth into proper alignment. However, in some cases, surgery may be necessary to expose the tooth so it can be moved into place with braces or other devices.
Some of the orthodontic treatments for impacted teeth are:
- Early-Stage Treatment (Canine Impaction) – A lot of time, canine impaction is diagnosed in the early stages. If you have braces, your orthodontist will be able to tell if your canine is impacted or not. In the early stages of treatment, a special appliance will be used to bring the gum tissue away from the tooth so it can erupt properly.
- Braces are the most common treatment for impacted teeth. By putting pressure on the teeth, braces can gradually move them into proper alignment. In some cases, a special wire may need to be used to help move the tooth.
Impacted teeth can often be successfully treated with orthodontic treatment. If you think you may have an impacted tooth, see your dentist right away for diagnosis and treatment.
Not all Teeth Can be Saved with Orthodontic Treatment
While orthodontic treatment can successfully move impacted teeth into proper alignment, there are some cases where the tooth may need to be extracted. This is usually due to damage or infection. If the tooth is severely damaged, it may not be able to be saved with orthodontic treatment.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Yes, you should always treat impacted teeth as soon as possible. An impacted tooth that does erupt through the gum line can cause several problems if left untreated.
One of the most common problems associated with impacted teeth is an infection of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the tooth. This infection can be excruciating and may require antibiotics or surgery to treat. Impacted teeth can also lead to alignment problems in the jaw, which can cause headaches or other issues.
If you think you have an impacted tooth, please see your dentist as soon as possible for treatment.
Impacted teeth occur when your teeth don’t erupt from the gum line or grow into their proper position. This can happen for various reasons, including crowding, overly soft tooth tissue, or a small Jawbone. While some impacted teeth can eventually come in independently without intervention, others must be removed by a dentist or oral surgeon.
The decision to extract an impacted tooth is usually based on several factors, including the tooth’s position (some are easier to remove than others), the severity of crowding in your mouth, and whether the impacted tooth is causing pain or other problems. In most cases, your dental care provider will recommend removing an impacted tooth before it causes further damage to your neighbouring teeth.
If you have an impacted tooth that’s not causing any problems, you may be tempted to leave it alone and hope it eventually comes in on its own. However, there are several risks associated with leaving an impacted tooth untreated, including:
Tooth decay. When a tooth is impacted, it’s more challenging to keep it clean. This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Damage to other teeth. The longer an impacted tooth is left untreated, the more likely it is to damage adjacent teeth.
Infection. An impacted tooth that isn’t removed can become infected., thus causing pain, swelling, and damage to the surrounding teeth.
Cysts or tumours. Impacted teeth can sometimes cause cysts or tumours to form around them. These growths can damage the surrounding teeth and bone.
If you have an impacted tooth, you must see an orthodontist or dentist to discuss your treatment options. In some cases, the tooth can be removed without orthodontic treatment. However, orthodontic treatment may be necessary in other cases to bring the tooth into alignment.
Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars that erupt in the mouth in the late teens or early twenties. For some people, these teeth erupt without any problems. But for others, they can become impacted, which means they get stuck beneath the gum line and never break through.
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause various issues, including pain, crowding, and infection. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth need to be removed.
While orthodontics can’t do anything to treat impacted teeth directly, there are indirect ways that orthodontic treatment can help in such a situation. For example, if your wisdom teeth are impacted and causing crowding in your mouth, orthodontic treatment can help to alleviate that crowding. Sometimes, this may make it possible for your wisdom teeth to erupt correctly. Orthodontics can also help treat other problems often caused by impacted wisdom teeth, such as pain and infection. By correcting the alignment of your teeth, orthodontic treatment can help take the pressure off your gums and alleviate any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing. Additionally, by reducing the crowding in your mouth, orthodontics can also help reduce your risk of developing an infection.
It depends on the severity of the case, but it can take a few weeks to a few months. If the impacted tooth partially erupts, your dentist may be able to remove the tooth using a simple extraction. If the tooth is impacted and fully lodged in the jawbone, your dentist may need to perform surgery to remove it. In either case, you will likely need antibiotics to prevent infection and pain medication to help manage discomfort. After removing the tooth, your dentist will discuss the best way to replace it. This may involve getting braces or other dental work done. It’s important to note that not all impacted teeth need to be removed.
In some cases, your dentist may be able to push the tooth into place using a simple extraction. However, this is only an option if the tooth is not severely impacted. If you have an impacted tooth, you must see a dentist as soon as possible to get your situation assessed.