When most people hear the words “impacted teeth,” they think of wisdom teeth. But in reality, any permanent tooth can be impacted, and an orthodontist can fix it with the help of an oral surgeon.
Impaction refers to a tooth not erupting through the gums due to a variety of issues. Some causes of tooth impaction include the tooth not developing quickly enough, a tooth being oriented incorrectly in the gums, genetics, tooth shape, or a lack of space for the tooth due to overcrowding or crooked teeth.
When wisdom teeth are impacted, they can generally be surgically removed to solve the problem. However, simply removing teeth that are more toward the front of the mouth can cause additional orthodontic and cosmetic issues, so moving the tooth into its proper place, if possible, is the best treatment plan. Sometimes this can be done by simply making room so the tooth can erupt naturally, but other times it requires surgical intervention.
Before an impacted tooth can erupt, a space in the gums must be made by shifting any other teeth that are in the way. To achieve this, an orthodontist use braces or an appliance on the surrounding teeth and move them out of the way. Once the space is available, an oral surgeon will remove any gum tissue or jawbone covering the tooth. A chain is then attached to the tooth and connected to the braces or appliance. Because this is a surgical procedure, the patient is sedated during this process.
After the gums have healed, usually in a few weeks, the patient will go back to the orthodontist for adjustments that will start to encourage the impacted tooth to erupt into its proper place and rotate into the correct position. This chain-and-bracket procedure is not a quick fix and may take several months to achieve desired results.
Removing an Impacted Tooth
Another option that can be considered is removing the impacted tooth altogether. In the case of teeth, other than wisdom teeth, they will likely need to be replaced. In this procedure, the impacted tooth is surgically removed and an implant is put in its place once the gum and bone have healed.
How to Know if You Have an Impacted Tooth
Because impacted teeth are still below the gums, it can be difficult to determine if you have one without seeing a dentist or orthodontist. However, some signs of possibly impacted teeth include jaw pain, red or swollen gums, headaches, or gaps between your teeth. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, dental x-rays will confirm whether or not they are being caused by impacted teeth.
Charleston Orthodontic Specialists treats impacted teeth on a regular basis, so if you think you may have one, please call our office at (843) 4-BRACES to find out for sure and determine your best course of treatment.