What is an impacted tooth?
If your dentist tells you that you have an impacted tooth, this means you have a tooth that cannot push totally through the gum into your mouth, normally because something (like another tooth) is blocking it. It may also come through at an angle. This is quite common for wisdom teeth, which get blocked by existing molars at the back of your mouth so that they are only ever partially erupted.
Is an impacted tooth dangerous?
In some cases, an impacted tooth can cause damage to other teeth, however it is more common for them to be at risk of decay or infection as they are much harder to clean properly. Having a mouth with overcrowded teeth can also lead to problems like discomfort when eating, speech problems like lisping, and feeling self-conscious about your smile.
How can I deal with an impacted tooth?
There are lots of ways to deal with an impacted tooth, depending on the potential for them to cause you problems:
- Firstly, continue to practice good oral hygiene by brushing, flossing (if you can) and rinsing with mouthwash. This will help to control any plaque build-up and decay.
- Make sure you visit your dentist regularly to assess if there are any cavities developing below the gum line which you won’t be able to see and treat yourself.
- If your wisdom tooth is impacted, it doesn’t always have to be extracted, but it may become painful at times. Your gums and jaw might feel achy and uncomfortable for a short period. If you can manage this infrequent pain with an over the counter pain killer it should pass in a day or so.
- The gum tissue around partially erupted teeth can be prone to infections, which is why you need to keep the area as clean as possible, although sometimes you might require an antibiotic to clear up any lingering bacteria.
Having an impacted tooth extracted
For many people, having an impacted tooth doesn’t affect their daily lives whatsoever, but for some people it may be necessary to have the tooth removed. This could be due to pain, decay or overcrowding causing bigger issues like jaw pain or damage to other teeth.
Your dentist will normally take an X-ray of your mouth and assess whether or not the tooth is likely to come through fully, and in a useful position. If not, your dentist will be able to talk you through the extraction process – what to expect, how long it should take, and aftercare guidelines to help your recovery process go smoothly. Tooth extractions are a routine procedure, so there’s no need to feel anxious about this treatment, however if you suffer a genuine discomfort or fear of visiting the dentist, talk to us about our sedation dentistry methods which will allow you to completely relax while we look after your teeth.
At Docklands Dental, we use an in-house specialist oral surgeon to assess and remove impacted teeth. This provides an extra level of care and experience for our patients. We can now observe an impacted tooth using a CBCT or 3D X-ray. This allows an oral surgeon to assess and plan the surgery on a computer prior to undergoing treatment, which can reduce any risks associated with the removal and improve healing after.