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What Is An Impacted Tooth?

An impacted tooth is a tooth that becomes blocked as it is erupting into the mouth. The most common teeth that are impacted are wisdom teeth which generally start to come into the mouth between the ages of seventeen and twenty-one years old. Wisdom teeth may also be referred to as third molars. However, any tooth in the mouth may become impacted, not just wisdom teeth.

Why Do Teeth Become Impacted?

Teeth become impacted if there is inadequate room in the mouth to accommodate them or if they try to erupt into the mouth sideways or are tilted in position in the jaw.

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How Do You Know If Your Tooth Is Impacted?

Some people may not realize that they have an impacted tooth until they have a dental x-ray taken or until they experience pain or swelling. Dental x-rays taken during regular dental exams or checkups can also show the presence of impacted teeth that are still under the gums. Patients who are over twenty-one years of age that have not had wisdom teeth erupt into the mouth should have dental x-rays taken to determine if their wisdom teeth have been impacted. In a small percentage of patients, wisdom teeth may be absent due to a condition called hypodontia.

Impacted Tooth Symptoms

You may experience pain that radiates from the back of the mouth, around the wisdom teeth and other molar teeth. This pain will worsen when the nearby teeth become affected.

The soft tissues or gums can become swollen and tender. Tenderness and bleeding may occur when pressure is applied to them. Brushing and flossing these affected areas will be difficult and painful. If your gums start to become tender and swollen even with your regular oral care routine, you should see your dentist right away. Neglecting your oral care routine will lead to gum disease or gingivitis which also results in tender and swollen gums.

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Impacted teeth are often accompanied by swelling of the gums. If wisdom teeth are impacted, swelling of the jaws may also occur. The pain may start out subtly, but it will worsen rapidly if it is left untreated. Some patients can experience extreme pain and may even have difficulty opening their mouth.

Infections from impacted teeth can also cause swelling of the glands in the neck and shoulders. See your dentist and doctor if you experience swelling in these areas.

Some patients also experience headaches due to impacted wisdom teeth. Pain may radiate to other areas of the face and head as well

If you experience any of these symptoms, see your dentist right away as you may have a current infection. If the cause of the infection is not treated by removing or extracting the impacted tooth, the infection will spread to other areas of the body and cause further damage. Call us right away if you think you may have an impacted tooth!

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