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Impacted Tooth

What is an impacted Tooth?

by admin on May 5, 2009

An impacted tooth is one that fails to emerge from the gums fully, the most typical example being a wisdom tooth.

Late teens are the age during which the wisdom tooth normally makes its appearance in an individual. It could get stuck on its way because it could be growing tilted, or at an angle, and not straight up as it should ideally do. Or it is possible that there is not enough space for it to push in amidst other teeth. Dentists call a wisdom tooth the third molar.

An impacted tooth does not cause any pain, but when it tries to push in, the layer of gum above it may swell and become painful. As a result, that side of a person’s face and ear, as well as the teeth adjacent to the emerging teeth, may hurt. The situation could also lead to the infection pericoronitis resulting from decaying bits of food that get trapped in the flap. The infection can spread to the neck and throat, if it goes unchecked.

An impacted wisdom tooth can harm the adjacent molar by pushing on to it and thereby displacing other teeth. This will affect biting and may cause decay of teeth and gums. An impacted tooth may develop cavities and in rare instances may form cysts.

Symptoms of impacted tooth:

  • Swollen gums
  • Problems in jaw movement
  • Bad mouth odor
  • Sour sensation inside the mouth
  • Pain while opening and closing the mouth
  • Pain during biting or chewing

Pain is generally intermittent and not continuous.

Methods of diagnosis

Dentists can generally make out the problem by visual examination. Where that is not sufficient, x-ray will be taken to get a precise idea of the location and tilt of the tooth.

Duration of the problem

Extraction of the impacted tooth will completely cure the problem.

Preventive measures

Formation of cavities in a wisdom tooth can be prevented by regular brushing and use of dental floss. But nothing can be done prevent its impacted nature.

Treatment options

Over the counter medicines are available for temporary relief. A common home remedy is rinsing the mouth with a cup of warm water with half a teaspoon salt in it.

An impacted tooth has eventually to be extracted. It is not a very complicated procedure, but if the tooth is growing in a crooked angle the procedure may take even up to half an hour.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the person who takes care of the problems relating to impacted teeth. Local anesthesia and sedation is necessary for the extraction to be carried out. The patient will have to refrain from eating for six hours prior to the surgery and will have to avoid brushing for a day after the surgery, and take the recommended medication for the few following days. The patient should ideally have someone to take him to the hospital.

Having soft or mashed food for a couple of days is the only post-surgical precaution that has to be taken. A sight swelling on the face, around where the tooth was extracted, is normal. Complications are generally rare.

An impacted tooth does not normally cause problems to the adjacent teeth. However, doctors often recommend that it should be surgically removed to prevent complications later.

A man can have four wisdom teeth and all the four can be extracted in one sitting. The problem of impacted teeth can be preempted by surgically removing them before they start pushing in. The procedure at the clinic of oral and maxillofacial surgeon would require local anesthesia and should ideally be done before a person is 21, as healing is faster at that age.

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