What is an Impacted Tooth?

When you visit a skilled orthodontist, they’ll be able to help you with far more than just crooked teeth, especially if malocclusions are detected early on. One potential problem that may arise is having an impacted tooth. Thankfully, orthodontists know how to treat impacted teeth, so if you or your child has an impacted tooth, you’ll have good treatment options available. 

What Does It Mean if I Have an Impacted Tooth?

Put simply, an impacted tooth is a tooth that can’t erupt. There are several potential reasons impacted teeth occur. One type of impacted teeth people are typically familiar with is wisdom teeth. While some patients have enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt, many people need their wisdom teeth removed because there just isn’t enough room for them to fully come in. 

Less commonly, kids may have impacted teeth when their adult teeth are erupting after losing their baby teeth. This can occur when the jaw is misshapen or too small, leaving too little room for the tooth to move past other adult teeth that have erupted. In some cases, cysts can form that prevent teeth from erupting. 

Problems Caused by Impacted Teeth

One of the biggest risks of impacted teeth is experiencing damage to other teeth. As the tooth attempts to erupt, it may start to press up against the roots of erupted teeth, possibly leading to infection and pain. 

And if teeth only partially erupt, they can be more vulnerable to decay since they are harder to clean properly. In the same vein, partially erupted teeth also accumulate more plaque around the gum line, resulting in inflammation and increasing the risk of gingivitis and gum disease. 

In the long run, patients who do not address their impacted teeth deal with complications like chronic jaw pain, headaches, and even bad breath. Teeth may also need to be extracted in the future due to infection resulting from tooth decay. 

How to Treat Impacted Teeth

As mentioned before, teen and young adult patients often need to have wisdom teeth removed if the teeth are at risk of becoming impacted, which is often unavoidable. But for younger patients, particularly children around the age of seven or eight, there are more preventative measures to take to avoid impacted teeth. 

In many cases, if children’s jaws are too small to accommodate all of their adult teeth, they can start a two-phase treatment plan. This often involves wearing a palatal expander, which increases the upper jaw to its proper size, creating enough room for all of the teeth to properly erupt. Another great option is Invisalign First, an early orthodontic treatment option that helps fix issues like severe crowding, jaw shape problems, and spacing. By getting early orthodontic treatment, your child can avoid potentially needing teeth extracted in the future or a longer period with braces. 

To learn more about how impacted teeth can affect you or your child’s orthodontic treatment, contact Smith Orthodontics today!