What is an impacted tooth?
A tooth that does not fully grow into the mouth or only partially grows into the mouth is said to be impacted. The most commonly impacted teeth are the wisdom teeth in the back of the mouth and the canines, also known as the maxillary cuspids or upper eyeteeth, in the front of the mouth. Under normal circumstances, your teeth grow into your mouth by passing through the gums and emerging into their natural position. But sometimes, a tooth gets “stuck” and does not fully emerge into 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 pathological growths blocking the tooth’s proper eruption
- Inability of the tooth to follow the normal growth track of adjacent teeth
The canine tooth plays a critical role in the dental arch and is extremely important to developing a proper bite. Because they are usually the last teeth to come into the mouth, it is essential to ensure that they have adequate space to develop and grow.
When do I need to seek treatment for my impacted tooth?
It is highly important to diagnose and treat any impacted teeth early in order to avoid misalignment, which often results in costly dental or orthodontic treatments. The longer a patient waits for diagnosis and treatment, the less likely it is that the impacted tooth will erupt by nature’s forces alone once space has been made for growth. This can result in additional surgical or orthodontic treatments that could have been avoided otherwise.
Regular visits to the general dentist can assist in the early identification of an impacted tooth. According to The American Association of Orthodontists, when a patient reaches the age of 7, they should begin x-ray screening to monitor for the development of impacted third molars or canines. If your tooth is deemed to be impacted or at risk of impaction, a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon or orthodontist is the best person to treat the problem. The orthodontic treatment, such as braces, can assist in creating additional space for the teeth to grow in properly. Removal of baby teeth by an oral surgeon may also be necessary for proper adult tooth development and growth.
What are my treatment options for impacted teeth?
In the case of impacted wisdom teeth, the best treatment option is removal by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, like Dr. Eric Claussen. To find out more about the removal of impacted wisdom teeth, click here.
One of the most common treatments for impacted teeth, other than wisdom teeth, is exposure and bonding, during which your orthodontist and oral surgeon work hand-in-hand to properly align the rest of the teeth in order for the impacted tooth to come in. The orthodontist prepares the mouth by moving the fully grown teeth into their correct position in the mouth, leaving room for the impacted tooth to grow into its natural position. Next, the oral surgeon will expose the impacted tooth by pushing the gum tissue back and removing bone overlying the tooth. Then, the oral surgeon will attach an orthodontic bracket with a very small chain to the tooth. The orthodontist then uses the chain to gently pull on the impacted tooth and, over time, move the tooth into its proper alignment within the mouth. Occasionally, the orthodontic bracket and chain may need to be repositioned by the oral surgeon to allow complete movement of the impacted tooth.
If you are in need of an exposure and bonding treatment for an impacted tooth, we encourage you to contact our office to schedule an initial consultation. The friendly and highly skilled team at Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center of Panama City have many options for impacted tooth treatment and are happy to review your individual case to develop an effective treatment plan.