Fixing Impacted Teeth

For most, baby teeth loosen, fall out, and adult teeth erupt and break through the skin on their own. Sometimes these adult teeth don’t come in straight and dental treatment is needed, such as braces, to shift the crooked teeth into the ideal bite position and prevent crowding. For others, sometimes these new adult teeth do not erupt or come through the skin on their own and they become stuck. These teeth then become trapped, or impacted below the surface of the gum. Below is more information about why teeth become impacted and what to do if you think you have an impacted tooth.

Why Do Teeth Become Impacted?

Often, adult teeth become impacted as a result of the overcrowding of teeth in the jaw. If nearby teeth are crowded and space is limited, the new tooth will not have enough room to come in and the tooth becomes trapped underneath the gums. A fully impacted tooth is one that fails to erupt through the gums at all. A partially impacted tooth is when the tip of the tooth breaks the gumline but the tooth does not have room to grow in completely.

In most cases, it is the wisdom teeth, or large back molars, that become impacted. The adult wisdom teeth come in later than most teeth, and often once they come in there isn’t room for them to fit in the jaw. This limited space often results in wisdom teeth coming in crooked or remaining completely sideways trapped below the gums.

The other teeth that are often impacted are the upper canine teeth. According to research, a family history of impacted upper canine’s is a strong indicator that you are likely to have them as well. Often, only one canine will be impacted. Why do the upper canines become impacted? It is because the canines normally come in after the incisors and the premolars. Again, when those adjacent teeth do not leave enough room between them, there is no space for the canines.

Symptoms Of Impacted Teeth

There are a range of symptoms experienced by adults with impacted teeth. Some adults show no symptoms at all when they have an impacted tooth. For others, there are more serious symptoms and complications of impacted teeth. Possible symptoms might include:

  • bad breath
  • constant dull pain
  • tenderness to touch around the jawline
  • A prolonged headache or jaw ache
  • Swollen gums and lymph nodes
  • Bad taste in mouth

There are also complications of impacted teeth that should be mentioned. Impacted teeth can push into the nearby teeth beneath the gums which can cause cavities, infections, gum disease, or nerve damage.

Fixing Impacted Teeth

Having impacted teeth is not a condition that can be prevented; however, it is a condition that can be treated. The best way to treat an impacted tooth is to remove the tooth (in the case of wisdom teeth) or move it into the proper position (in the case of canines) with oral surgery. Often aided by symptoms, an impacted tooth is usually identified with dental x-rays, and then the dentist will consult with or refer the patient to an orthodontist or oral surgeon to develop the best possible treatment plan.

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