An impacted tooth is defined as a tooth that either has not erupted at its expected time or a tooth that is unable to erupt due to limited spacing between the teeth; a tooth could also be growing in incorrectly, which could prevent eruption. It’s common for teenagers and adults to have impacted wisdom teeth, but other teeth can be impacted as well.
For example, children who are in the process of growing their permanent teeth could have impacted teeth. If a baby tooth does not fall out on time, a permanent tooth could get trapped inside of the gums. A cyst could also cause an impacted tooth by preventing a permanent tooth from growing in.
If there is limited spacing between the teeth, an impacted tooth could cause more crowding and shift the erupted teeth into unhealthy positions. This could make it difficult for children to bite or chew, and can also cause tenderness and pain.
Impacted wisdom teeth are the molars at the back of the mouth that are unable to erupt due to limited spacing. Most individuals have four wisdom teeth, two on the top and two on the bottom. Most of the time, because there is insufficient spacing for wisdom teeth to grow in, when they do try emerging, some individuals experience extreme pain. Impacted wisdom teeth can also cause damage to the surrounding teeth, and even to themselves. Because they’re located at the back of the mouth, they’re harder to clean, making them more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.
Not everyone experiences symptoms from an impacted tooth. However, for those that do, here are some signs to pay attention to:
Whether an impacted tooth partially erupts or is unable to erupt, there are certain ways they may grow in that could cause pain and irritation. For example, some impacted teeth grow at an angle facing the next tooth, some grow at an angle facing the back of the mouth, some grow at a right angle as if they’re lying down within the jawbone, and some grow regularly but are just trapped inside of the jawbone.
If an impacted tooth develops inside of a sac within the jawbone, the sac may fill with fluid, form a cyst, and damage the jawbone, teeth, and nerves. If a tooth is partially impacted, there is a higher chance that tooth decay may occur, especially if the impacted tooth is a wisdom tooth. Because impacted teeth are difficult to clean, the gums could become painful and inflammatory, resulting in a gum condition called pericoronitis.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to prevent an impacted tooth from developing. However, maintaining regular dental checkups allows dental professionals to perform X-rays that scan for impacted teeth. If found, dental professionals can take the next precautionary steps to provide relief for the patient.
At McBride Dental, we offer preventative dentistry services to specifically help our patients avoid tooth decay, gum disease, tooth abscesses, and any other oral complications. As long as our patients maintain their appointments with us twice a year, we’re able to inspect their teeth and gums and provide deep cleanings to ensure their mouth stays healthy. If you’re in need of preventative care, call 760-471-1003 to schedule an appointment today.