What are impacted teeth?

An impacted tooth is a tooth that for some reason, has been blocked from breaking through the gum. Sometimes a tooth may be only partially impacted, meaning it has started to break through, and sometimes a tooth is fully impacted (meaning, it is stuck under the gums).

How do I know if I have an impacted tooth?

Oftentimes, impacted teeth are only discovered during a routine dentalX-ray.

What causes an impacted tooth?

In general, a tooth may become impacted when your mouth doesn't have enough space for it.

Symptoms of impacted teeth

Symptoms of impacted teeth range from no symptoms to red, swollen, or bleeding gums.

Which teeth are most often impacted?

-Wisdom teeth, which are usually the last teeth to erupt — are most typically impacted.Impacted wisdom teeth are usually removed by an oral surgeon.

- The second most common teeth to be impacted are the upper canines. Because these teeth play a more important role both aesthetically and in your bite, your orthodontist will most likely recommend treatments that help these teeth to erupt instead of removing them. A lot of times, impacted canines are buried deep in the palate (upper roof of your mouth).

How are impacted teeth diagnosed?

Impacted teeth can only be diagnosed with a dental XRay called an OPG (orthopanthomogram) which is a panoramic image of your jaw and teeth. You should be able to take this XRay at your orthodontist's clinic. Sometimes a more detailed scan may be required to find out the angle and area of impaction. This is called a Cone Beam CT Scan, which is a 3D image of the teeth and jaw. If your dentist suspects you of having an impacted tooth/ teeth, he should refer you to an orthodontist to assess and treat.

What happens if I don't treat Impacted Teeth?

Depending how they are growing, impacted teeth could cause the following problems:

  • 1)If they are fully impacted (ie, under the gums), they could damage adjacent healthy teeth. Your orthodontist will be able to assess whether this is a possible risk or not.
  • 2)Impacted teeth, whether fully impacted or partially erupted, may become infected as it is difficult to clean them. You may then experience pain and inflammation due to this infection.

Treatment for Impacted Teeth

The two main methods of treating impacted teeth are:-

  • 1)Surgical Removal,
  • 2)Surgical Exposure + braces

Surgical removal is usually prescribed for impacted wisdom teeth. You don't really need your wisdom teeth (other than the gaining of wisdom!), so removal is a good solution for these teeth.

However, if your canines are impacted in your palate, the recommended treatment is almost always surgical exposure combined with orthodontics. Your orthodontist will refer you to an oral surgeon who will firstly expose the tooth. An attachment is placed on the exposed tooth, which is then attached to your braces, and the orthodontist will then work to guide the tooth to its proper position. You will need to wear braces throughout this process. Once the impacted tooth has been brought down to its rightful position on your gums, the braces can be removed
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