Patient Education: Impacted Tooth

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Patient Education: Impacted Tooth

What is an Impacted Tooth?

An impacted tooth is a tooth that fails to fully emerge through the gums into its normal position in the mouth. This can occur for various reasons, including overcrowding, abnormal tooth development, or obstruction by other teeth or bone.

Types of Impacted Teeth:

  1. Wisdom Teeth (Third Molars): Wisdom teeth are the most commonly impacted teeth. They are the last teeth to erupt, typically between the ages of 17 and 25. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause pain, swelling, infection, and damage to neighboring teeth if left untreated.
  2. Canine Teeth (Maxillary Canines or "Eye Teeth"): Canine teeth are crucial for biting and tearing food. Impacted canines can lead to alignment issues, crowding, and difficulty chewing.
  3. Premolars and Incisors: Although less common, premolars and incisors can also become impacted, often due to overcrowding or abnormal tooth development.

Symptoms of an Impacted Tooth:

  • Pain or Discomfort: Impacted teeth may cause pain or discomfort, especially when biting or chewing.
  • Swelling: Swelling around the affected area of the jaw or gums may occur.
  • Redness and Inflammation: The gums around the impacted tooth may appear red, swollen, or inflamed.
  • Difficulty Opening the Mouth: Severe cases of impaction may result in difficulty opening the mouth fully.

Complications of Untreated Impacted Teeth:

  • Infection: Impacted teeth can create pockets where bacteria can accumulate, leading to infection and inflammation of the surrounding tissues (pericoronitis).
  • Damage to Surrounding Teeth: Impacted teeth can exert pressure on neighboring teeth, causing them to shift position or become damaged.
  • Cysts or Tumors: In rare cases, impacted teeth may lead to the formation of cysts or tumors in the jawbone.
  • Alignment Issues: Impacted teeth can disrupt the natural alignment of the teeth, leading to crowding or malocclusion (improper bite).

Treatment Options:

  1. Extraction: For impacted wisdom teeth or severely impacted teeth causing complications, extraction may be necessary to alleviate pain and prevent further problems.
  2. Surgical Exposure and Bonding: In cases where teeth are partially impacted and need to be guided into proper alignment, a surgical procedure called exposure and bonding may be performed. This involves uncovering the impacted tooth and attaching orthodontic brackets to it to facilitate movement into the correct position.
  3. Orthodontic Treatment: Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, may be recommended to help correct alignment issues caused by impacted teeth.


If you suspect you have an impacted tooth or are experiencing symptoms such as pain, swelling, or difficulty chewing, it's essential to consult with your dentist or oral surgeon for evaluation and appropriate treatment. Early intervention can help prevent complications and ensure optimal oral health.