Teeth develop into the mouth by growing and erupting through the gums into their natural position. Sometimes, a tooth gets trapped and either does not completely erupt or only partially emerges into the mouth. When this occurs, the tooth is said to be impacted. The most common impacted teeth are the wisdom teeth, or third molars, in the far back of the mouth and the canines in the front of the mouth.
A tooth may become impacted for a variety of reasons, including
- Overcrowding of the teeth in the mouth
- The presence of extra teeth or the lack of normal adult teeth
- Unusual growths that block the tooth’s proper eruption
- Inability of the tooth to follow the normal growth track of adjacent teeth
It is important to receive early diagnosis and treatment of any impacted teeth. With early diagnosis and treatment, you will potentially avoid misalignment and the costly dental or orthodontic treatments that are needed as a result. To determine if a tooth is impacted, your doctor will perform a thorough oral exam. The presence of redness, tenderness, puffy or swollen gum tissue, or drainage in the area of the tooth may indicate an impacted tooth. If an impacted tooth is suspected, it can be confirmed with an X-ray.