At Scott Edwards, DDS, we take patient empowerment seriously. What do we mean by that? Well, we believe there’s no reason for our patients to be in the dark regarding their dental care. For that reason, it’s important that we give you all the tools you need to go into any appointment informed on what to expect. Today, we’re taking a closer look at tooth impaction. What is an impacted tooth? How is it treated? And when do I need to seek care? We’ll answer all this and more below, so keep reading!
Impacted Teeth – What Are They?
Let’s start by defining our terms. What is an impacted tooth? Simply put, an impacted tooth is one which fails to break through the gum line. We often see this during infancy, when permanent teeth replace primary (baby) teeth. Alternatively, it may happen when wisdom teeth, also known as the third set of molars, attempt to emerge between 17 and 21. These are the periods when impacted teeth are commonly seen, and most treatments for impacted teeth are typically administered.
What Sorts of Dental Issues Cause Impaction?
Impacted teeth can occur due to various factors influenced by the complexity of dental development and the uniqueness of each individual’s smile. Here are some of the most common causes:
- Overcrowding: One prevalent cause of tooth impaction is overcrowding. This occurs when there isn’t enough space in the mouth for the tooth to emerge. Wisdom teeth, being the last to erupt, often face this challenge.
- Jaw Size and Structure: The size and structure of the jaw can play a significant role in tooth impaction. If the jaw is too small to accommodate all the teeth, crowding and impaction may arise. Wisdom teeth are particularly susceptible to impaction due to limited space in the back of the mouth.
- Tooth Displacement: During an eruption, teeth may encounter obstacles or other teeth, leading to displacement. This encounter can cause them to become twisted, tilted, or displaced from their intended positions, resulting in impaction.
- Abnormal Growth Patterns: Abnormalities in tooth development can contribute to impaction. Irregular tooth growth or anomalies in the eruption process can hinder teeth from emerging fully or correctly, leading to impaction.
How We Diagnose Impacted Teeth
Dr. Edwards can diagnose impaction with a thorough exam of the problem area. The impacted tooth may put pressure on neighboring teeth, and signs of infection, such as redness, drainage, and tenderness, can often be identified in the surrounding tissue. If Dr. Edwards suspects an impacted tooth, we’ll take dental X-rays to confirm the condition and proceed with the most appropriate treatment options.
Signs of an Impacted Tooth
Identifying impacted teeth can be challenging since they may not always exhibit noticeable symptoms. However, some common signs that you or your child may have an impacted tooth include:
- Bad breath
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Gum or jawbone pain or tenderness
- Prolonged headaches or jaw aches
- Redness and swelling of the gums near the impacted tooth
- Tenderness and swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Strange or unpleasant taste when biting down on or near the area
- Visible gap where a tooth should be
Treatment Options for an Impacted Tooth
Treatment for impacted teeth depends on the individual case. Sometimes, no treatment may be necessary if an impacted wisdom tooth is not causing any problems. The doctor may recommend braces if the impacted tooth is positioned towards the front of the smile, aiding in its proper alignment.
Over-the-counter pain relievers can provide temporary relief for any discomfort associated with impacted teeth. Gargling with warm salt water or using over-the-counter mouthwashes can also help soothe the gums.
Typically, the most effective treatment for impacted wisdom teeth involves their removal, usually performed by an oral surgeon in the dentist’s office. Dr. Edwards may prescribe antibiotics in cases where an infection is present before extraction.
Problems Associated with Impaction
Immediately addressing impacted teeth is crucial, as complications can arise if left untreated. Potential problems associated with impacted teeth include:
- Abscesses in the tooth or gum area
- Chronic mouth discomfort
- Poor alignment of teeth (malocclusion)
- Plaque accumulation between teeth and gums
- Periodontal disease affecting neighboring teeth
- Potential nerve damage if the impacted tooth is near the mandibular nerve in the jaw
When to Seek Treatment
If you suspect that you or your child may have impacted teeth, reach out to Dr. Edwards immediately. He’ll conduct a comprehensive evaluation and recommend the most appropriate treatment. Don’t let impacted teeth negatively impact you or your family’s oral health — get help from the experts immediately!
Call Today to Get Started!
Whether you’re dealing with an oral emergency like an impacted tooth or just need a reliable family dentist with the experience you deserve, you’ve found what you’re looking for with Scott Edwards, DDS. We’re a Memphis institution, and our friendly team of professionals is ready and waiting to help you at every step of your dental health journey, so reach out and call today, or just schedule online.
We’re ready when you are!