Impacted Teeth 101—What You Need To Know

Dental terms are sometimes thrown around in normal conversation, and you might end up thinking you know they mean…but maybe you don’t! 


Impacted teeth is one of those terms. You most commonly hear it related to wisdom teeth, but can it happen to other teeth? What about baby teeth?  

 How much do you REALLY know about impacted teeth?

If you have recently been diagnosed with an impacted tooth, you might be curious to learn how it effects your bite or the alignment of your teeth. If you are concerned about an impacted tooth and live in the Arlington, TX area, give Dr. Marchbank’s office a call today! We will be happy to examine the impacted area and provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan.  


While you wait for your appointment, or if you’re just curious, below is a quick 101 overview of impacted teeth. 


What is an impacted tooth? 


An impacted tooth describes a tooth that has either not come in all the way (or “fully erupted”) or one that doesn’t have enough room to come in fully—due to overcrowding in the jaw or the direction the tooth is positioned.  


As you can imagine, any tooth that is misaligned can cause significant damage to surrounding teeth, not to mention discomfort. And your confidence in smiling and saying “Cheese!” can be damaged badly, too. 


There is no single reason for a tooth to become impacted; however, many dentists believe that genetics play a significant role. If you have had impacted teeth in the past, your children are at a higher likelihood to have them, too.  


Can any tooth be impacted? 


While you hear most often about impacted teeth in teenagers who are having their wisdom teeth removed, the reality is that all teeth can be impacted. And this isn’t a problem simply reserved for adolescents! Children who are in the process of getting their permanent teeth can have impacted teeth, too. A permanent tooth can become trapped in the gums if a baby tooth doesn’t fall out on time, or if something blocks the permanent tooth’s path like a cyst. A permanent tooth may not erupt at all; or, if it does, the tooth may appear in the wrong place. 


What are the consequences of impacted teeth? 


Impacted teeth can harm the roots of neighboring teeth and result in overcrowding in the mouth. And once teeth are overcrowded, it can cause other teeth to shift into uncomfortable (and impractical) locations. Especially those children with impacted teeth may find it difficult to bite or chew, and there can be tenderness or pain. And as the teeth become crowded, appearance is affected, and self-esteem can decline.  


In addition, teeth that overlap can trap bad bacteria and food particles that can lead to gum disease and cavities.  


What are my options? 


Options for fixing an impacted tooth can vary depending on the case. For children who need room for more permanent teeth, a simple tooth extraction of the baby tooth may provide enough room. However, if the problem lies in the size of the jaw, more complex orthodontic work may be needed to make sure there is enough room for teeth. In some cases, this could include palette expanders.  


For the most complex cases (generally seen in the adult population), a combination of oral surgery and orthodontic treatments might be necessary.  


Since many of the easier treatments are only available when the patient is a child, we recommend children receive frequent oral care appointments to monitor any changes, especially as baby teeth start to fall out and permanent teeth begin to erupt.  

Dr. Marchbanks’ office is equipped to see patients of all ages, so give us a call today!

Also published on Medium.

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