Many people have heard of impacted wisdom teeth, but most are not aware that other teeth in the mouth can be impacted as well. Although an impacted tooth is uncommon, it is good to know exactly what occurs as one goes through the normal process of losing baby teeth during childhood to make room for permanent teeth, in order to watch for unusual signs that may signify an impacted tooth.
Normally all humans go through the process in their childhood years where their baby teeth are essentially pushed out by incoming permanent teeth. Wisdom teeth are typically the last permanent teeth to erupt and this places them somewhat at a disadvantage when it comes to finding the appropriate amount of space in which to appear. When wisdom teeth cannot erupt properly due to lack of space, they are said to be impacted. Some people may not experience problems arising from impacted wisdom teeth. Others can have issues with damage to other teeth, difficulty opening the mouth, headaches, pain and a host of other symptoms.
However, wisdom teeth are not the only teeth that can become impacted in the mouth. Sometimes the issue is not stemming from lack of space, but rather the permanent tooth is misaligned, unable to erupt through its proper position in the mouth, thereby failing to push out and take the place of a baby tooth. For those that receive regular dental exams, including X-rays, they will most likely know in advance that a malfunction has occurred and a permanent tooth is not advancing properly. For others who do not receive regular dental care, they may not be aware they have a problem until they feel a hard bump in an unusual place in their mouth. If left untreated, this hard bump will most likely eventually erupt and the individual will discover they have a tooth growing in an improper position.
Although an individual may not currently be experiencing any problems from their impacted tooth, a qualified dentist will perform an examination to determine if the impacted tooth will likely cause problems for their patient in the future. Sometimes impacted teeth grow into the roots of other teeth, which can damage them and other times the baby tooth can fall out, leaving a gap that cannot normally be replaced by the impacted permanent tooth. Fortunately, there are solutions to getting the impacted tooth back on track and into its proper place. If a dentist or orthodontist determines the impacted tooth can be saved, they will typically recommend a treatment, which includes surgery to expose the impacted tooth. This will allow a orthodontist to access affix tiny wires and other orthodontia in order to gradually move the permanent tooth into its proper place. As part of the treatment, at some point, the baby tooth would also need to be removed in order to make way for the permanent tooth.
For those cases where it was determined the permanent tooth cannot not be saved, the impacted tooth along with the baby tooth, would be removed and the gap left behind would be fitted with a false tooth (dental implant) or bridge.
The best way to avoid complex issues arising from a dental anomaly such as an impacted tooth is to have regular exams and X-rays performed by a qualified dentist. Early detection and prevention is the best way to keep a minor dental issue from turning into a situation that requires more extensive solutions down the road. For more information on how to preserve a beautiful and healthy set of teeth that will last a lifetime, please contact us.