What Should I Do About an Impacted Tooth?

An impacted tooth is a tooth that is prevented from reaching its normal position in the mouth. The tooth may be prevented from fully erupting into the mouth due to bone, tissue or another tooth that is blocking its entrance.

The teeth that are most likely to become impacted are the “wisdom teeth” or third set of molars. These teeth in the back of your mouth are the last to develop and typically do not begin erupting into the mouth until the late teens or early twenties. Most people have four wisdom teeth. In many cases, by the time the wisdom teeth start to break through, there is very little room in the jaw to accommodate them. This causes impaction.

Impacted teeth can cause pain and further dental problems including dental infection of the gums, tooth decay or displacement of the other teeth in the mouth. Pain and swelling in the jaw, bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth can all be signs of an impacted tooth. A tooth impaction is typically diagnosed upon physical examination and may be confirmed with dental x-rays.

Since impacted teeth can cause a variety of other dental health problems, it is usually recommended that they be removed. If the tooth is exposed and appears to be easy to remove in one piece, a dentist may remove it using forcepts and a local anesthetic. However, if the procedures appears to be more complicated in nature, it may be referred to an oral surgeon. In this case, the extraction can occur under sedation or general anesthesia in a surgical or outpatient surgery setting.

If you think you may have an impacted tooth or several impacted teeth, schedule an appointment with your dentist today. After a thorough evaluation, your dentist can determine the best course of action to take to protect your long-term dental health.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Hye Park, Green Dental of Alexandria

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