Fix Impacted Teeth
When a tooth is prevented from breaking through the gumline it is known as an impacted tooth. Often, an impacted tooth will cause no apparent symptoms (asymptomatic) and only be discovered via an X-ray during a routine dental checkup.
Impacted Teeth Symptoms
Some patients will not experience any symptoms from an impacted tooth. In other cases, symptoms may come and go over weeks or months and could include:
- Redness, swelling, or bleeding of the gums
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth
- Pain when opening the mouth or when biting and chewing
Impacted Teeth Complications
Because fully impacted teeth fail to break through the gums, patients are not able to care or clean the teeth. However, even a partially impacted tooth can be more difficult to properly clean putting the patient at higher risk of further dental problems, including:
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Overcrowding of nearby teeth
- Development of cysts that can damage roots and bone structures
- Absorption of adjacent teeth or bone
Treating Impacted Teeth
- Patients suspected of having an impacted tooth are advised to consult a dentist as soon as possible for evaluation. The practitioner will examine the patient’s teeth and use X-rays to identify if an impacted tooth is the culprit behind any symptoms. If an impacted tooth or teeth is the cause, treatment options could include the following:
- Wait and Monitor: Because patients with impacted teeth are often asymptomatic, the doctor may take a wait-and-see-what-happens approach. Rather than surgically removing the impacted tooth, the dentist will periodically monitor it to identify any problems that could develop. Regular dental checkups make this simple and should be part of any oral care program.
- Oral Surgery: If a patient is suffering from pain or additional undesirable side effects from an impacted tooth, the dentist may advise to surgically extract the tooth or teeth. Tooth extraction surgery is particularly recommended for impacted wisdom teeth or in cases where the impacted tooth might harmfully affect other adjacent teeth. Extraction procedures are typically done on an outpatient basis at the oral surgeon’s facility meaning the patient can go home after the surgery. Patients receive local anesthesia during the 45-60 minute procedure to minimize pain. Though recovery typically takes 7 to 10 days, often patients can return to school or work within a few days of surgery.
- Eruption Aids: If the impacted teeth are canines, eruption aids may help the tooth properly erupt. Eruption aids may include brackets, braces, or by removing teeth that are blocking the canines. These methods are most successful when the patient is younger. Should the aids fail to help achieve eruption, the affected tooth will need to be extracted and replaced with a dental implant or bridge.
- Pain Management: Pain from impacted teeth can be managed using over the counter medications. Aspirin can combat mild to moderate pain but should never be given to children under 18 because it can increase the risk for developing serious conditions, like Reye’s syndrome. Ice can also be helpful in alleviating any swelling or inflammation.