What is an impacted tooth?

An impacted tooth is unable to erupt into its proper position because it is stuck in the jaw bone. This can be caused by a jaw that is too small to accommodate all the teeth or an obstruction in its path of eruption, such as a baby tooth that did not fall out on time or a lesion that is preventing the tooth from erupting.

Why do impacted teeth require treatment?

Impacted teeth can cause numerous negative health effects. If the tooth is partially erupted, local infection of the soft tissues surrounding the tooth produces the first symptoms. This infection can progress to the tissues of the face and neck, and in some rare instances, it can spread to the rest of the body. Enlarging cysts or tumors can arise in association with impacted teeth. These pathologies are often painless in the beginning, but they destroy the surrounding jaw bone and the roots of the adjacent teeth. Impacted teeth can also interfere with orthodontic treatment and implant placement.

How are impacted teeth treated?

A CT scan of the impacted tooth provides a 3D image of its location and allows the orthodontist to decide whether the tooth can be brought into its ideal position. The oral surgeon can remove any obstacles to its eruption and place a bracket with a chain on the tooth to pull it into the proper bite. In some cases, the tooth needs to be extracted to remove or prevent pathology and to allow for implant placement. If it is decided to leave the impacted tooth, regular professional cleanings, annual check-ups, and periodic x-rays are recommended to monitor for any changes.