Impaction of teeth is the condition in which a tooth has been blocked from breaking through the gum and growing in properly. Oftentimes, these impacted teeth cause no obvious symptoms and are generally discovered through a routine X-ray check-up at the dentist’s office.
Impacted teeth can cause problems through multiple symptoms. Depending on the severity of the impaction itself, you may be subject to red, swollen or bleeding gums. You may also have a constant bad taste in your mouth due to the impaction causing decay or bad breath. In more severe cases, you may have difficulties opening or closing your mouth, or when you are chewing or biting.
What causes an impacted tooth?
In general, a tooth can become impacted when the mouth does not have the actual physical space for it. This can be due to genetics or from an orthodontic treatment itself.
Wisdom teeth, which are usually the last teeth to grow in, are usually the most impacted since the mouth and jaw have typically stopped growing by the time the tooth becomes impacted. If you have a smaller jaw, you are at a higher risk of having impacted teeth.
Problems due to impacted teeth
Since impacted teeth never break through the gums, you will be unable to properly care for or even clean them. This can place you and your teeth at risk for a long laundry list of dental problems.
Cavities and decay
Luckily, if your teeth are only partially impacted, you can still clean them to a certain extent. Some possible complications of having impacted teeth can be cavities from continual decay of the gums or teeth. This can further lead to other periodontal infections such as gum disease or oral cancer, in extreme situations.
Cysts and gum disease
For those who have had difficulty cleaning with impacted teeth and have developed cysts or gum disease, they are often accompanied by pain. Cysts damage the supporting teeth and the roots of neighboring teeth, while gum infections tend to seep through the actual gum line itself and sets the stage for additional bacteria and particles to enter and feast.
In most cases involving other periodontal diseases, these teeth may be surgically removed or treated promptly to help reduce further pain and inflammation.
Damage to neighboring teeth
There may be crowding of the nearby teeth that can hinder the growth of adult teeth and can cause misalignments. This may make cosmetic dental surgery necessary for those who wish to obtain straighter or cleaner teeth while having impacted teeth.
It is not uncommon to see crooked wisdom teeth crashing with the roots of neighboring teeth, causing structural problems and additional complications opening and closing the jaw. A stiff jaw often accompanies this condition, as well.
Luckily, there are treatment options for those who do not see progress with their impacted teeth.
Some dentists like to use a wait-and-see approach and closely monitor the teeth instead of surgically removing the tooth. If this is the case, make sure to keep up with your regular dental check-ups at least every six months.
If you decide to go under the knife, your dentist may recommend extraction surgery. This option is mostly used for people who are experiencing extreme pain and other side effects. Tooth extractions are usually done on a same-day basis and usually take 45 to 60 minutes. You will be placed under anesthesia for the procedure.
Eruption aids may be used for younger people as well to help the tooth erupt properly in place. If this is achieved, the impacted tooth will need to be replaced with a dental implant or bridge.
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