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Impacted teeth

An impacted tooth is obstructed from breaking through the gum. The tooth may also be partially impacted, which means it has already started breaking through the gum. Impacted teeth often do not show symptoms and are only noticed during a routine dental X-ray.

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Symptoms of impacted teeth

You may not experience symptoms when you have an impacted tooth, but in other cases, the impacted tooth can cause:

  • Difficulty opening your mouth
  • Red, bleeding or swollen gums
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Pain when opening the mouth or when biting and chewing
  • Bad breath

These symptoms may recur over weeks or months.

What can cause an impacted tooth?

Wisdom teeth which often come in last, usually between ages 17 – 21, are usually impacted. When the wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are coming in, the jaw may have stopped growing. This makes the mouth and jaw too small to accommodate these molars, and since they don’t serve any purpose, most people remove them if they are a problem.

The maxillary canines, or the upper eyeteeth or cuspid, are another common teeth that come in impacted teeth. Since the cuspids play a vital role in your mouth, your dentist may recommend treatment to ensure their complete eruption instead of removing them.

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What are the treatments for impacted teeth?

If you suspect an impacted tooth, visit your dentist immediately. Your dentist will examine your teeth and take a dental X-ray to determine if the impacted tooth is causing any problems. If it is, you may discuss the benefits and risks of possible treatments. These treatments include:

  • Waiting and monitoring

If the impacted tooth is not causing symptoms, the dentist may suggest the wait-and-see approach instead of removing the tooth. You will have periodic exams with the dentist to monitor the teeth and check for developing problems.

  • Surgery

If you are experiencing pain and other discomforting side effects from your impacted tooth, the dentist may recommend a tooth extraction surgery, especially if the impacted teeth would negatively affect other teeth.

Tooth extraction surgery is mostly an outpatient procedure done at the oral surgeon’s office, so you can return home on the same day. This procedure can take 45 – 60 minutes, and you may need local anaesthesia.

Recovery can take 7 – 10 days, but you can go to work or school within a few days after the procedure.

  • Eruption aids

When your canine teeth are impacted, the dentist may use eruption aids to help them erupt completely. Eruption aids may include brackets, braces or extracting adult or baby teeth that may obstruct the canines. These methods have a higher success rate in younger people.

If the eruption doesn’t occur, removing the impacted tooth is the next option and replacing it with a dental bridge or implant.

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Complications of impacted teeth

The incomplete eruption of impacted teeth means you won’t care for or clean them, but if your teeth are partially impacted, they will be more difficult to clean. This increases the risk of dental problems, including:

  • Decay
  • Cavities
  • Gum disease
  • Crowding of the nearby teeth
  • Absorption of adjacent teeth or bone
  • Cysts, which can damage bone or roots of the nearby teeth
  • Infection

Pain management for impacted teeth

If you experience pain from your impacted tooth, you can take OTC medication for temporary relief. Aspirin is effective for treating mild to moderate tooth pain, but it isn’t suitable for children below 18 years because it elevates the risk of Reye’s syndrome.

You can also use ice to help reduce inflammation or swish warm salt water around your mouth to relieve the pain.

If you experience severe pain and home remedies do not offer relief, your doctor can recommend a pain reliever. Even if home remedies relieve your pain, consult your dentist. You should only use pain relief treatment for a short period.

If your impacted tooth is causing pain, it may need surgical removal or treatment with other medical interventions.

At McKennell Dental Practice, our dentists will examine your teeth and the affected area to determine the right treatment for your impacted tooth. Visit us at 21 Churton Street London SW1V 2LY or call 020 7834 8802 for an appointment with our dentist.

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