You may be wondering what impacted teeth are, and why you may need braces to fix it. Keep reading below to find out what impacted teeth are, how to avoid them, and what to do if you have them.
What is an impacted tooth?
An impacted tooth is a tooth that is stuck inside your jaw bone. It may even be growing in the wrong direction. Since it is still inside your bone, it is unnoticeable. You, or even your dentist, may not even know that the tooth is there on a routine exam. The only way to know if you have an impacted tooth is to take the right x-ray.
Why do teeth become impacted?
There may be many reasons why a tooth does not erupt normally:
- Lack of space – If there is overcrowding in your mouth, teeth are more likely to become impacted.
- Early tooth loss – Other teeth may start crowding the area where a baby tooth was lost prematurely, causing the adult tooth to have nowhere to go.
- Abnormal size or shape – Sometimes, a tooth may not develop normally. The odd shape or size of these teeth may make increase the risk for impaction.
- Genetics – A child whose parent had an impacted tooth is more likely to have an impacted tooth.
Unfortunately, sometimes we do not know the exact cause of tooth impaction. A tooth may be impacted even if there is enough space.
What teeth can become impacted?
Any tooth can become impacted. However, there is higher risk and incidence for certain teeth. For example, wisdom teeth are the most likely teeth to become impacted because most people do not have enough space for wisdom teeth to erupt. The next most likely tooth to get impacted is an upper permanent canine.
Why & when do I need to fix an impacted tooth?
An impacted tooth can cause detriment to your other healthy teeth:
- It can start to push on other teeth, causing them to grow crooked.
- It can start to eat at the roots of other teeth, causing root resorption (shortening of the root)
- An infection can start around the impacted tooth bud.
Fix it earlier rather than later:
- The longer the tooth is impacted, the more likely you will experience negative side effects.
- The older you are, the more difficult it is to retrieve an impacted tooth.
- The older you are, the more likely that the tooth cannot be retrieved & extraction may be necessary.
How to prevent impacted teeth
Since you cannot detect impacted teeth without the correct x-rays, you can reduce the risk for an impacted tooth by scheduling an exam with a board-certified orthodontist, as soon as 7 years of age. If your orthodontist detects risk for impaction, they may recommend early treatment.
Regular checkups with your dentist can also detect impactions early with the correct x-rays.
I have an impacted tooth – what now?
There are several options for an impacted tooth depending on what your orthodontist finds during your initial exam. Possible kinds of treatment are:
- Exposure (retrieving the impacted tooth and bringing it into the mouth – see picture)
- Monitor – if it is not causing issues, it is possible to monitor the impacted tooth without treatment.
Interested in discussing different treatment options for you or your loved one? Call (707) 474-4707 or Message Us to schedule a complimentary initial consultation with our ABO Board-Certified orthodontist.