Smera Clinic - Impacted teeth

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What is an impacted tooth?

An impacted tooth is simply a tooth that is blocked or stuck under the gum & cannot erupt or grow into the correct position. Any tooth can become impacted but the most frequent tooth to be impacted is a wisdom tooth. Wisdom teeth become impacted due to a lack of space or because they grow in a poor position. As these teeth normally do not have a chewing or cosmetic purpose they are often removed when they start to cause problems.

Patients who have the following may be good candidates for sinus augmentation:
  • Lost more than one tooth in the posterior maxilla.
  • Lost a significant amount of bone in the posterior maxilla.
  • Missing teeth due to genetics or birth defect.
  • Missing most of the maxillary teeth & need a strong sinus floor for multiple implants.

Wisdom teeth are the last to erupt & typically do so between the ages of 17 & 25. They may grow sideways, emerge only partially or remain completely trapped under gum & bone, which either produces no symptoms or causes:<

  • Swollen, red, tender or bleeding gums
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth near the affected area
  • Headache or jaw ache
  • Occasional difficulty opening the mouth

A diagnosis can only be confirmed with dental x-rays, which may also indicate damage to other teeth or the jawbone.

Surgical options:

Some impacted wisdom teeth don't require removal, but symptomatic cases usually need surgical extraction by a dentist. Local or general anesthesia may be used, depending on the severity of the condition. First, an incision in the gums is made & any bone blocking the impacted tooth is removed before the tooth itself. Afterward, the incision is stitched shut & the empty tooth socket is packed with gauze.Surgery may be delayed if a wisdom tooth is already infected, in which case a dentist would likely prescribe antibiotics & wait a week to 10 days before proceeding.

After Surgery:

Patients are sent home with instructions for diet modifications & other measures to help manage the expected post-surgical pain & swelling. Complications are unusual, but may include:

  • Infection of the tooth or gums due to bacteria or trapped food
  • Sinus damage near upper wisdom teeth
  • Dry tooth socket or bone exposure
  • Weakened lower jawbone
  • Patients who develop any post-surgical complications should contact their doctors immediately.
Risk on Non-Removal:

Because bone is more flexible in people under 30, wisdom tooth removal may be simpler before then. Some impacted wisdom teeth never need removal if they don’t cause dental problems, although research indicates that even third molars that erupt in a normal, upright position may be as disease-prone as impacted ones. Impacted teeth that are not removed may lead to serious complications.