The term "impacted teeth" is commonly used to refer to teeth that fail to break through your gums. Your teeth begin their journey to the surface during your infancy as your baby teeth make way for your permanent ones. Sometimes, one of your teeth fails to make it to the surface or only partially breaks through. It is called an impacted tooth.
The most likely teeth to deal with this issue are your wisdom teeth – which are your third set of molars. These teeth come in around ages 17 to 21 and they are the last teeth to come out. There are many potential reasons why a tooth becomes impacted and remains stuck in bone or gum tissue. Sometimes, it is because the person’s jaw is too small to fit the new teeth. A tooth can also become impacted if it is displaced or tilted while emerging.
There is no need to panic if you find yourself dealing with an impacted tooth. It is actually a common condition that may not always result in immediate pain. An impacted tooth tends to push on the tooth next to it, leading to a misaligned bite over time. The longer one does not seek treatment, the higher chance for the pain to form.
Symptoms of Impacted Teeth
It is also easier for an impacted tooth to trap food particles and plaque, leading to tooth decay and bad breath. This is known as peritonitis. The food particles trapped by the impacted tooth can also end up leading to the decay of the closest tooth to it.
Wondering if you have any impacted teeth? Here are seven important symptoms:
Foul smelling breath
Tenderness of the gums and jawbone
Persistent jaw aches or headaches
Problems opening your mouth
Visible gap where the tooth should be
Weird taste when biting down near that area
The lymph nodes in your neck become swollen
Taking care of an impacted tooth
The first thing you need to do if you suspect that you have an impacted tooth is to visit your dentist immediately. He/she will examine the area to determine if it is indeed an impacted tooth and if it’s adversely affecting any adjacent teeth. Your dentist will also look for signs of infection such as tenderness, drainage, and redness.
Your dentist might decide that no action is necessary if the tooth in question is not causing any problems. Over-the-counter medication might be necessary if the impacted tooth is causing pain. A regular mouthwash or a warm saltwater rinse can help relieve tender gums.
The most common treatment is the removal of the impacted tooth. An oral surgeon typically performs this procedure. You might need antibiotics that the dentist can prescribe if there is an infection. Contact a dentist if you have impacted teeth that are causing you discomfort.
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