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