The word “impacted” means “driven in”. An impacted tooth is a tooth that has not “erupted” (been driven out) of the gums. An impacted tooth may be completely concealed, or it may have partially erupted. It is not yet known why some teeth become impacted, but it is generally due to a lack of space within the mouth.
An impacted tooth may be blocked by a cyst, other teeth, or a patient may just have a genetic proclivity for dental impaction; if your parents had impacted teeth, so may you. Some teeth also contort under the bone and gum, resulting in impaction. The most common teeth to be impacted within the mouth are the wisdom teeth.
Sometimes, a patient may not notice an impacted tooth. The gum above the tooth may not be inflamed, and no other symptoms may be present. Conversely, an impacted tooth may continue trying to come through, and may cause difficulties. Impacted teeth cannot be cleaned easily, which can lead to oral hygiene issues. Often, impacted teeth cause swelling, difficulty chewing, and a radiating pain in the jaw. It may be difficult to open and close the jaw, and you may experience foul-smelling breath.
Impacted teeth are very common. Whether or not you are experiencing symptoms, an impacted tooth will be caught on X-Rays by our dentists at your routine check-up. Impacted teeth which present no symptoms to the patient do not require treatment. Nevertheless, if you suspect you may have an impacted tooth, it is best to make an appointment if you notice anything out of the ordinary. If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, treatment options are available, and our dentists will be happy to discuss them with you.