What’s An Impacted Tooth?

What’s An Impacted Tooth?

Posted by Dr. Thomas Flavin Jul 26,2022

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An impacted tooth is any tooth that is stuck or trapped within the gums or bone. It commonly happens with wisdom teeth. It can also happen to any of your other teeth. Impacted teeth can cause damage to the teeth around them. They can also create painful symptoms.

An impacted tooth is a tooth that is blocked from growing in by one or more neighboring teeth. For example, you may have two upper canine teeth that are blocked from coming in by your third molars. In this case, you would refer to the third molars as “impacting” the two upper canines. Typically, this happens in young adults as our adult teeth come in one by one. 

What Causes Impacted Teeth?

When a tooth doesn’t grow properly, it sometimes gets stuck and is unable to push through the gums properly. When this happens, the tooth is called “impacted.”

The most common cause of an impacted tooth is a baby tooth that didn’t fall out in time to allow the adult tooth to come in. However, adults can also develop impacted wisdom teeth if they don’t have enough room in their mouth for them to grow.

If you have an impacted tooth, our dentists may recommend an oral surgeon to extract it. In some cases, we may be able to remove the impacted tooth early with an orthodontic procedure called “interceptive orthodontics.”

Symptoms of Impacted Teeth

  • Pain when biting down, chewing food, or applying pressure to the jaw
  • Bad breath
  • Teeth that are misaligned or crooked
  • A growing child whose adult teeth are blocked from coming in due to the presence of another tooth that’s blocking the way
  • Jaw pain caused by an overcrowded mouth

Impacted teeth refer to a tooth that is unable to fully erupt through the gum tissue and into the proper position in the mouth because it’s blocked by other teeth, the jawbone, or other oral structures. When this occurs, we refer to it as an impacted tooth. It’s a fairly common issue that affects children and adults alike – in fact, the American Association of Orthodontists states that around 35 percent of kids have an impacted tooth by the time they reach the age of 11. The condition isn’t common in adults but can still occur.

The good news is it’s fairly easy to treat! Treatment usually doesn’t require surgery – instead, the dentist can consult with the patient about the best course of care. Typically, we recommend seeing a dentist as soon as possible so that we can address the issue before it worsens and causes more problems for the patient. In some cases, we may refer a patient for surgical removal of their impacted wisdom teeth if they pose a significant risk to the patient’s health, such as an infection in the gums surrounding them. 

To learn more, contact Healthy Smiles of Saint Louis at 4224 Watson Rd, St. Louis, MO 63109, or call (314) 832-1366. 

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