Understanding the Origins of an Impacted Toothimpacted tooth

At our orthodontic offices in Atlanta, we often see patients who have impacted teeth – and most don’t even know it! Braces are one of the many ways to treat an impacted tooth and give it space to move into the correct position. In this article, we’ll be showing you what an impacted tooth is, what causes an impacted tooth, and how they’re treated.

What is an impacted tooth? 

An impacted tooth is a tooth that isn’t able to erupt through the gum for some reason. Most impacted teeth don’t cause any symptoms at all, so you may not know that you or your child has an impacted tooth until you come into a dentist or orthodontist office for an X-ray.

Symptoms of an impacted tooth 

Most people never even know they have an impacted tooth until they see it on an X-ray. But for some people, they may notice some of the following symptoms of an impacted tooth:

  • Pain when chewing
  • Pain when opening or closing the mouth
  • Bleeding or swollen guns
  • Bad breath
  • Sensitive teeth
  • An ongoing strange taste in the mouth

What causes an impacted tooth? 

An impacted tooth is caused by structures in the mouth that are blocking the tooth’s eruption. In most cases, the blockage is caused by other teeth. Impacted teeth are usually genetic, as the teeth grow and erupt in a timeline prescribed by your genes.

Wisdom teeth are more likely to become impacted than any other teeth in the mouth. As part of evolution, human jaws have slowly over time become smaller than our ancient ancestors, leaving less room in the mouth for the last teeth to join the party – the wisdom teeth. The smaller your jaw is, the more likely you are to have impacted teeth.

Treatments for impacted teeth 

When your impacted teeth are causing pain or other orthodontic woes, there’s plenty your orthodontist can do to help you feel better. Treatments for impacted teeth include:

  • Removal – “Getting your wisdom teeth out” is practically a right of passage for Sandy Springs teenagers. Since wisdom teeth aren’t really necessary for proper function of the mouth and jaw, removing them when they cause a problem is the obvious choice for many patients. Wisdom teeth removal is typically an in-office surgery, and the patient can return home immediately after their procedure.
  • Eruption aids – When it doesn’t make sense to remove an impacted tooth, such as when it’s a canine or other tooth that’s impacted, eruption aids can be used to help the tooth break through. These may include removing other baby or adult teeth that are blocking the impacted tooth’s path, braces, or brackets. Once other teeth are moved out of the way, impacted teeth generally erupt on their own.
  • Waiting and watching – Especially in growing kids, impacted teeth may work their way out on their own as the jaw grows. If your impacted tooth isn’t causing any problems, we often go with the “wait and see” approach.

Wondering about your impacted tooth? 

The orthodontists at Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists help people all over Sandy Springs, Atlanta, College Park, and the Atlanta metro area get the straight, great smiles they’ve always wanted. Give us a call today.