Tooth impaction can be an extremely painful problem to have. It causes pain, damage to your other teeth and it could lead to complicated dental problems. If you suspect that you have an impacted tooth, then you may be wondering what has caused it and how it is treated. We will touch on that in this article. However, we will also go through the different types of impacted tooth, which teeth are most commonly affected and what the symptoms are. So let us take a closer look at the details of an impacted tooth.

What causes tooth impaction?

Teeth will push through your gums as an infant. This is when you first get your baby teeth. It will happen again later in life with the emergence of your adult teeth. Sometimes, your adult tooth will not come in or it has only partially emerged through the gums. This is considered to be an impacted tooth, and that is what causes it. 

The exact cause for a tooth that has not come through is different for every case. The area around it could be overcrowded, or the tooth is twisted, tilted or has become displaced. It really depends on the individual when it comes to the cause of an impacted tooth. However, this can be clarified with your dentist. 

Which teeth are most commonly impacted?

Typically, the wisdom teeth are the ones that are most affected by tooth impaction. Wisdom teeth emerge later in life, usually between the ages of 17 and 21. However, some people may not have any wisdom teeth come through at all. Although, others might only have one or two emerge as opposed to all four. 

Wisdom teeth are also called ‘third molars’. So by the time they come through, your jaw and adult teeth have already developed and have stopped growing. The most common reason for impacted wisdom teeth is overcrowding. It is still possible, however, for other teeth to become affected by tooth impaction. So do not just associate it with wisdom teeth. If you suspect a tooth is impacted, visit your dentist for assistance. 

Different types of impacted teeth

Not many people are aware that there are actually a few different types of impacted teeth. It really does depend on the cause of impaction and which tooth it is. Where you might only think that there is one way for a tooth to become impacted, there are actually several different definitions of an impacted tooth. Some of the different types of impacted teeth include:

  • Horizontal – a tricky issue to rectify, these impacted teeth lie on their side within the gumline. They are normally responsible for overcrowding neighbouring teeth
  • Vertical – an unusual type of impaction, this tooth will normally sit in its upright position, but it is too close to another tooth, making it unable to erupt
  • Mesial – this is when a tooth erupts facing outwards and angled towards the front of the mouth. Most common in wisdom teeth, it is also referred to as an ‘angular’ impaction
  • Distal – this is a parietal or full impaction which is opposite to mesial impactions. Essentially, the tooth emerges facing backwards, facing the throat

What are the symptoms of an impacted tooth?

It is usually quite obvious if you have an impacted tooth, but some of the signs of an impacted tooth can mimic that of other dental issues. If you are unsure about whether or not you have an impacted tooth, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. However, if you are wondering what the problem could be, here are some of the symptoms of an impacted tooth that you might be experiencing:

  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Finding it difficult to open your mouth
  • Having prolonged jaw ache and headaches
  • Swelling and/or redness in the gums surrounding the affected tooth
  • An unpleasant taste if you eat, bite or lick around the affected area
  • A visible gap where a tooth should have emerged, but has not

How is an impacted tooth treated?

The treatment used for impacted teeth will largely depend on the individual case. There is no one-size-fits all remedy for impacted teeth. It also depends on the length of time the tooth has been impacted for. If you visit your dentist, you may well get given some advice rather than be booked in for an appointment to correct or remove the impacted tooth. Some of the treatment options available for an impacted tooth include the following:

  • Waiting – wisdom teeth, especially, can emerge from the age of 17-21, but they can erupt much later in life. If you are experiencing aches in this area, it might be that the tooth is getting ready to erupt, so you will be asked to give it some time before coming back to the dentist for an impacted tooth. This is because, as that stage, it can be difficult to determine whether or not the tooth is actually impacted or not
  • Over-the-counter medications – your dentist might suggest that you try over-the-counter painkillers whilst you are waiting to see what happens with your suspected impacted tooth. This is only really an option if it is unclear as to whether or not the tooth has impacted
  • Extraction – impacted teeth can be removed, especially if they are showing no signs of growing as they should, and if they are causing you considerable pain. Considered to be a last resort, tooth extraction when it comes to impacted teeth is not an uncommon treatment. It provides instant relief whilst also protecting your surrounding teeth and gums
  • Brackets or braces – these are useful if the tooth has fully emerged but is pointing the wrong way. The idea of braces is to straighten existing teeth, whether impacted or not. Depending on your individual case, braces might be just the solution you need to rectify an impacted tooth
  • Eruption aids – if the tooth has not emerged properly, then eruption aids can be used that will encourage the tooth to come through. It could include anything from braces and brackets to the extraction of baby or adult teeth that may be blocking access to other teeth. These aids are usually used on younger people. However, if this treatment is unsuccessful, the affected tooth will need to be removed and replaced with a dental bridge or a dental implant

Quorn Dental Practice and Implant Clinic are pleased to offer expert dental treatments to patients throughout Loughborough and the surrounding areas. If you would like further information about the specialist treatments, cosmetic dental procedures and general dentist appointments, get in touch with a member of our highly-qualified, professional team today – we are always pleased to hear from you.