Impaction of teeth is a common occurrence, with millions of Americans undergoing treatment yearly to correct this potentially uncomfortable condition. The precise cause of tooth impaction is not well known. If you or a loved one has this condition, you may find the factors responsible for impaction both important and interesting.

An impacted tooth is one that fails to erupt normally from the gums and/or gets displaced. In most cases, the third molars, otherwise called the wisdom teeth, can erupt in the late teens or early twenties and get impacted because the jaw does not have enough space to accommodate additional teeth.



One common cause of impaction of teeth is the development of the third molars at an awkward angle. In some cases, the third set of molars has no adverse effects on the angle of other teeth in the oral cavity and therefore do not cause any issue that requires extraction.

In most cases, however, overcrowding of the nearby molars and other teeth happens. If the molars are removed promptly, or before the eruption, they will not affect the position of other teeth. The oral surgeon may use a device that creates a panoramic image of the entire oral cavity to know the potential displacement of adjacent molars before proceeding to remove one or more teeth.

Although impaction of teeth may cause no pain, failure to extract the tooth on time may cause a future problem that may result in discomfort, infection and pain.


Although everyone has different jaw and teeth growth patterns, there is a trend for eruption and jaw development. If it is necessary to place braces, retainers or spacers before the patient reaches 17, the child’s orthodontist must account for the duration required to complete the teeth misalignment, close the gap or other situations that may need orthodontic treatment.

Since wisdom teeth usually start coming out between ages 17 and 21, orthodontists need to consider all the factors involved before starting the treatment. Orthodontic devices may cause wisdom teeth to create issues with the nearby teeth and jaw structure.


The regular wear and tear that upper and lower molars have to deal with may affect the growth and development of wisdom teeth in adults and adolescents. When the teeth at the rear end of the mouth are used sufficiently to create an evenly worn surface area, the erupting tooth will develop without problems. The grinding motion that occurs with chewing grains, roughages and meat often wears the last molars in a way that encourages normal tooth growth. This is not applicable to everyone, though, especially those who suffer from congenital jaw misalignment or other genetic conditions.


For people dealing with impaction of teeth, extraction is the best solution. With modern advances in oral surgery, the process is now relatively easy and painless. Patients will undergo the procedure under anesthesia, and medications will be prescribed for significant relief from pain and swelling that may occur after surgery.

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