What is an impacted tooth?
- An impacted tooth is a tooth that gets blocked as it is pushing through the gum into your mouth (erupting). Wisdom teeth often are impacted.
- Wisdom teeth usually begin to come in between the ages of 17 and 21. Dentists call these teeth third molars. They may become impacted because there’s not enough room in your mouth for them. A wisdom tooth also might be trying to come in sideways. Or, it might be tilted in your jaw.
- An impacted tooth can lead to an infection called pericoronitis. If untreated, this infection can spread to the throat or into the neck. Severe infections require a hospital stay and surgery.
- Impacted teeth also can get cavities. An impacted tooth can push on the neighboring molar. This can lead to tooth movement, decay or gum disease.
- Swelling of the gum in the back of your mouth
- Difficulty in opening your jaw
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Pain while opening the mouth
- Pain when chewing or biting Pain can occur for several days and then disappear. It can come back weeks or months later.
Your dentist will examine the area. If necessary, he or she will take X-rays. X-rays can show where your wisdom teeth are and if they are impacted.
- Warm saline rinses can help in relieving the pain (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water). Over-the-counter pain relievers also may help.
- If the tooth continues to cause pain, is infected or interferes with nearby teeth, the usual treatment is to extract it out. .Patients are often referred to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to have an impacted tooth removed.
- After the surgery you may have swelling of the cheeks and jaw. It may be hard to eat certain foods. Follow your dentist’s or surgeon’s instructions carefully for the best recovery. Complications of surgery are rare, but do occur.
- Many people have all four of their wisdom teeth taken out at once. Sometimes this surgery is done before the teeth have started coming in. This prevents future problems. Often, it is better to have your wisdom teeth taken out before you turn 21. The surgery usually is less complicated. The tissue and bone also heal better. The surgery is PAINLESS and done under local anesthesia.