An impacted tooth is a tooth that becomes blocked or faces an obstruction as it tries to come out of the gums. The dental term the tooth coming out of the gums is called eruption or erupting teeth. Wisdom teeth are the most commonly impacted teeth. Impacted teeth can be painful, but sometimes there may be no pain present. As a result, it is possible not to know that you have an impacted tooth until symptoms appear in the mouth. An impacted tooth can be painless. You may not even realize it’s there. However, when an impacted wisdom tooth tries to come in, the flap of gum on top of it can become infected and swollen. This can hurt. You might even feel pain in nearby teeth, or in the ear on that side of your face.
What causes impacted teeth?
Impacted teeth are due to a couple of reasons. Another tooth may block the path or prevent a tooth from erupting fully. In some cases, a tooth may partially impacted, which means that a portion of the tooth managed to erupt out of the gums. In other cases, if the jawbone is too small or if there is not enough room in the mouth, the teeth will not erupt partially or completely. If the tooth is tilted improperly in the jaw, that will cause it to erupt sideways.
Symptoms of an impacted tooth:
Having an impacted tooth can lead to pericoronitis. Pericoronitis is an infection that causes swollen and infected gum tissue around the teeth. Pericoronitis can spread to the throat and into the neck if it is left untreated.
Impacted teeth are also prone to dental decay or cavities. Impacted teeth can lean or push into nearby teeth, which may lead to tooth decay or infection. In serious cases, an impacted teeth can cause a cyst in the jaw.
Other symptoms include:
- Swelling of the gum, usually in the back of the mouth
- Difficulty or pain when opening your mouth
- Unpleasant or bad breath
- Bad or unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Pain when eating
If you notice a raised area of gum tissue in the mouth, especially if it is painful, it could indicate an impacted tooth or active infection in the area.
Diagnosing an impacted tooth
Dental x-rays are needed to properly diagnose an impacted tooth that is not visible in the mouth. By the ages of seventeen to twenty-one, most people have all of their wisdom teeth. When the wisdom teeth are not present by around twenty-one years of age, dental x-rays are used to confirm if they are impacted or if they are congenitally (naturally) missing.
Treatment usually involves removing the affected tooth and allowing the area to heal properly. Even if the impacted tooth may not be touching another tooth, potential issues can arise at a later date. Because of this, the recommended treatment is usually to remove the impacted tooth before it can become an issue. If you think you have an impacted tooth or are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact us to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.
About Dr. Joseph Salvaggio
Located in Brampton, Ontario Dr. Joseph Salvaggio has been practicing general, cosmetic, and implant dentistry for over 20 years. He enjoys interacting with his patients and helping to restore their oral health for better overall health as well. Meeting new patients, interacting and educating them is one of Dr. Salvaggio’s biggest joys. We encourage you to read our reviews or call us with any dental questions you have. We look forward to speaking with you and meeting you soon.