Impacted Teeth: 5 Things You Need to Know
Are you having issues with an impacted tooth? Impacted teeth can be painful and uncomfortable, but understanding what’s causing your discomfort is key to treating them. And the good news is that the earlier tooth impactions are treated, the better your outcome will likely be. Read on for five things to know about impacted teeth and what can be done.
What is an impacted tooth?
If your dentist tells you that you have an impacted tooth, they are talking about a tooth that is late erupting because of being stuck in some way. This usually occurs when there isn’t enough room in the mouth for all of your teeth to fit properly, which often means the unerupted tooth has been blocked by another tooth. And unfortunately, because impacted teeth don’t just stop pushing to be freed, they often poke through the gums at an angle or push other teeth out of place, often damaging the roots of those teeth in the process.
While any tooth can become impacted, wisdom teeth are frequent culprits. Also known as your third molars, they tend to make their presence known sometime between ages 17 and 25. Because they are the last teeth to erupt, the mouth is quite often too full for wisdom teeth to come through. Of course there are many reasons an impaction may occur. But the most important thing to know is that it should be taken care of before it causes problems, if at all possible.
Signs of an Impacted Tooth
It’s not uncommon that impacted teeth are discovered when your dentist takes an X-ray, before you notice any symptoms at all. However, any of the following signs and symptoms could be related to an impacted tooth.
- Bleeding gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- A foul taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away on its own or with the use of a minty mouthwash
- Challenges trying to open your mouth wide without discomfort
- Pain when chewing or biting
How an Impacted Tooth Is Treated
The treatment for impacted teeth depends on several factors, including the severity of the condition, your age, which tooth or teeth are impacted, and any underlying health issues. Treatment can range from monitoring the tooth’s progress to surgically removing it. Other treatments may include repositioning the tooth or adding a dental appliance such as braces or retainers to help move the impacted tooth into its proper position. Especially when wisdom teeth are involved, removal is typically the best option.
5 Reasons You May Need Your Impacted Teeth Removed
If you are not experiencing any pain or discomfort with your impacted tooth, your dentist may be okay with simply keeping tabs on it over time. However, most dentists recommend removal if you have dental impaction for the following reasons.
1. You are experiencing pain at the back of your mouth.
The average adult has 32 teeth once their wisdom teeth have come in. And when you think about it, that’s a lot of teeth for a space as small as your mouth. When it comes to wisdom teeth, they sit at the far back of your mouth, where it tends to get narrower as your jaw bones start to come together. When your wisdom teeth come in, there is often very little room, and they start to put pressure on spaces in your mouth that they otherwise would not touch. This includes the adjacent teeth and their roots. That close proximity can cause pain, not just in the tooth but also in your gums and jaw.
2. You are subject to a higher rate of infection.
Because of the way they are positioned, your wisdom teeth are more complicated to clean than your other teeth. Getting into those tight spaces with your toothbrush, let alone flossing, can be challenging. As food gets stuck between those crowded teeth and is not effectively brushed or flossed away, bacteria begin to develop, which can lead to an infection and can affect more than just your wisdom teeth.
3. You are more susceptible to tooth decay and cysts.
When your teeth aren’t effectively cleaned, you can develop tooth decay as the built-up bacteria break down. And eventually, this can lead to an abscess, or cyst, in your tooth. You are also far more likely to develop cavities, which let even more bacteria in, thus increasing the risk of more significant health problems for you later.
4. It can cause damage to your adjacent teeth.
When your impacted teeth begin to emerge through the gumline, they often come in at different angles. While some might come in straight and cause no issues, it’s more likely that they will come in at an angle. Some wisdom teeth even make their appearance sideways. This crooked effect can cause damage to the other teeth in your mouth, especially when they start to press on the roots of your adjacent healthy teeth. Once this happens, you not only need to have your wisdom teeth removed, but you will likely need restorative dentistry work done on the nearby teeth.
5. Your overall health may be at risk.
If you develop an infection in your mouth and the infection is left untreated, the infection can spread into your bloodstream, thus compromising your immune system. Think of your mouth as the gateway to the rest of your body. If you are experiencing issues with your oral health, your overall health has the potential to be affected too.
Thus, removing your wisdom teeth, whether they are impacted or not, is a way of protecting your overall health, keeping you from increased risk of pain, infection, or disease.
My Chico Dentist can remove your impacted teeth.
If you are experiencing problems related to impacted teeth, don’t delay seeking treatment. The longer you wait, the more likely you will experience the problems mentioned above. Contact us to request an appointment today with My Chico Dentist. The process of removing impacted teeth is easier than many people realize, and you may quickly be on your way to a happier, healthier, and pain-free life.