A tooth is impacted when it fails to erupt through gum tissue completely or correctly. Insufficient jaw space is very often the culprit, and the likely teeth to become impacted are third molars (more commonly referred to as wisdom teeth). Your dentist will monitor concerns with impacted teeth (one of the advantages of seeing your dentist every six months) to help determine the best course of action to minimize problems going forward.
What problems can occur because of an impacted tooth? For many patients, there are no difficulties, but some of the situations that can arise are:
- Abscess – This is an infection of the impacted tooth where a pus pocket forms – it can be very painful and requires treatment with antibiotics.
- Malocclusion – Impacted teeth might result in teeth being shifted creating a malocclusion (a condition where top teeth do not properly align with bottom teeth); teeth being pushed together can result in crooked teeth, an over bite, or an under bite.
- Plaque build-up – Crooked teeth provide areas where plaque forms; plaque that builds on teeth can lead to dental decay and/or gum disease.
When teeth cannot erupt properly, they can twist around in the gums moving to wherever they can find room. They may grow into the roof of the mouth or try to erupt sideways. When there is concern that one or more teeth are impacted, dental x-rays will identify the problem and the decision for treatment can be discussed.
Impacted teeth that are not presenting any problems for the patient can remain; however, many patients will be better served with having impacted teeth extracted to prevent future difficulties.
With impacted wisdom teeth, your family dentist may recommend having them all removed at one time … very often at the hand of an oral surgeon. Wisdom teeth generally do not erupt until late teens or early twenties, and if they are to be extracted, the earlier this is performed is usually better.
Recovering from impacted teeth extraction is different for everyone. Usually the patient is advised to go home to rest for the balance of the day to help control bleeding. Depending on the severity of the extraction, over the counter analgesics may be sufficient to control discomfort. Eating soft foods for a few days is recommended.
Impacted teeth affect everyone differently so your dentist is your best guide for successful treatment. If you’re considering a tooth extraction, contact us at Ora Dental Studio today!