Impacted Tooth

(Unemerged Tooth; Dental Impaction)

Definition

An impacted tooth is a tooth that is positioned against another tooth, bone, or soft tissue so that it is unlikely to fully erupt through the gums to reach its normal position in the mouth.
Wisdom Teeth (Third Molars)
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Causes

Impaction typically occurs in the third molars, also called the wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth, which begin to develop around age 9, are most vulnerable to impaction because they are the last teeth to erupt, usually between the late teens and early 20s. By then, the jaw has stopped growing and may be too small to accommodate these four teeth.An impacted tooth remains embedded in soft gum tissue or bone beyond its normal eruption time. The cause may be overcrowding. Other teeth may also become twisted, tilted, or displaced as the new teeth try to emerge.

Risk Factors

Impacted teeth are common. Factors that may increase your risk of impacted teeth include:
  • Genetics
  • Poor orthodontic treatment

Symptoms

Some people with impacted teeth have no pain or other symptoms. In those who have symptoms, impacted teeth may cause:
  • Pain or tenderness of the gums or jaw bone
  • Unpleasant taste when biting down
  • Bad breath
  • Redness and swelling of the gums around the impacted tooth
  • Prolonged, unexplained headache or jaw ache
  • Difficulty opening your mouth
Complications of untreated impacted teeth include:
  • A cyst in the soft tissue under the gum line
  • Tooth decay
  • Misalignment of other teeth
  • Gingivitis—inflammation of the gums, which can lead to infection
  • Absorption of bone or adjacent teeth

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