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Impacted Tooth? We Explore Everything You Need to Know

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

impacted teeth wisdom teeth removal

What’s an impacted tooth?

To answer this question, we can first quickly clarify what are wisdom teeth are, since these are the teeth most likely to become impacted.

Wisdom teeth are our third molars, and the last of our teeth to come in. These are the teeth that that are the most distal of our molars. Most of us have 4 wisdom teeth, meaning we have a third molar in each quadrant of our mouth, but in some cases, we can have fewer.

When we are close to age 12, the third molars begin to develop in the back of the mouth, behind the other sets of molars. Around age 14, these teeth continue to develop. When there is not enough room for them to fully emerge, we refer to this as “impacted.” Said another way, an impacted tooth is one that is positioned against another tooth, bone or soft tissue in a way where it is unlikely to come through the gums to reach a “normal” position in your mouth. When these teeth are impacted, it can lead to recurring infections in the mouth, among other issues.

As much as 90 percent of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth. That’s why your dentist examines the status of your teeth as they come in, so you can avoid unnecessary pain and/or infection, and so you can ensure no adjacent teeth are damaged.

wisdom teeth dr hagen dds cincinnati ohioImpacted Third Molars

Wisdom teeth can become impacted when the size of the teeth and the size of the jaw do not match, resulting in overcrowding in the mouth. We look to classify these impacted teeth by direction, depth (as compared to biting surface of teeth around it), and the amount of the tooth that extends through your gum tissue. Since your jaw can be more susceptible to fracture with an impacted tooth, it’s an area we want to watch. Even if we know a tooth is in fact impacted, we want to make sure there isn’t any disease associated with that tooth.

Do I Have an Impacted Tooth?

People might notice food getting stuck in between gums or they could just feel a general soreness in their mouth when a tooth is impacted. In some situations, people may get—or mistake it for—a throat infection. Pain is one of the more commonly cited symptoms of impacted teeth.

Although not everyone needs to get their wisdom teeth removed, here are several signs you may have an impacted tooth that may need to be removed:

  • Infection
  • Damage to adjacent teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Cysts
  • Infection

Believe it or not, however, pain is actually not always a sign that you need wisdom teeth removed or that you have an impacted tooth. The goods news is that you don’t have to determine whether or not any impacted teeth need to be removed or not. Your dentist will recommend what you should do, and whether or not extraction is the best treatment to keep your teeth healthy and straight.

An in-person exam and X-rays can help confirm and validate your recommended course of action, and with regular dentist visits, we can remove your impacted teeth—even before there are any complications! Contact us today if you thing you might have an impacted tooth.