So what exactly is an impacted tooth? An impacted tooth is a tooth that does not pass through the gums completely. An impacted tooth may never erupt or partially grow in. Impacted teeth occur because there is not enough space in your mouth (crowded teeth), your jaw is too small, or your teeth are tiled/sideways. Third-year molars (aka wisdom teeth) usually erupt between the ages of 17-21 and tend to become impacted. Types of impacted teeth include:
- Vertical Impaction: Mouth is too crowded so teeth can’t break through the gums.
- Horizontal Impaction: Teeth lie horizontally in the mouth, underneath the gums.
- Mesial Impaction: Teeth are positioned toward the front of the mouth.
- Boney Impaction: A partially grown in tooth that is still attached to the bone.
- Soft tissue Impaction: The tooth has broken through the gums, but only partially.
Because there is little space in your mouth/jaw for the tooth to grow, impacted teeth can cause your gums to become inflamed and infected. If your teeth are partially impacted, food and other harmful bacteria can become stuck around the tooth. You may even experience discomfort in your ears and face around the impacted tooth, headaches, or migraines. If left untreated, impacted teeth can also cause an infection called pericoronitis. People with impacted teeth may also experience:
- Cavities in surrounding teeth
- Inflamed and bleeding gums
- Trouble opening their jaw
- Discomfort while eating
- Bad breath
- A headache and jaw pain
A dentist will see if you have an impacted tooth through x-ray. If you are experiencing pain and swelling, your impacted tooth should be extracted right away. If the impacted tooth is indeed a wisdom tooth, it is best to remove it before the age of 21. This is because there will be fewer complications during surgery and a quicker healing time. In some cases, however, a person might not even know that they have an impacted tooth. Your dentist will then decide if and when your tooth needs to be extracted.
If you have any questions about impacted teeth or are experiencing tooth discomfort, please call Premier Dental Associates at 212-587-0202. We are always there for our patients’ needs!
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