An impacted tooth is one that fails to erupt into the dental arch within the expected developmental window. Because impacted teeth do not erupt, they are retained throughout the individual’s lifetime unless extracted or exposed surgically. Teeth may become impacted because of adjacent teeth, dense overlying bone, excessive soft tissue or a genetic abnormality. Any tooth can be impacted but the third molars are frequently impacted because they are the last teeth to erupt in the oral cavity. The third molars usually begin to erupt at the age seventeen to twenty-one.
The failure of eruption of third molars could be due to:
- Lack of sufficient space in person’s jaw to accommodate the tooth.
- The tooth’s eruption path is obstructed by other teeth.
- Because the angulation of the tooth is improper.
- Difficulty in opening your jaw
- Swelling of the gum in the back of your mouth
- Bad breath
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Pain when you open your mouth
- Pain while chewing or biting
Pain can occur for several days and then disappear. It can recur after weeks or months later.
An impacted tooth can be detected by a dentist through the use of special x-rays like OPG, IOPA or occlusion view x-ray which helps the dentist in planning the method of surgical removal.
Complications due to presence of impacted teeth:
- Damage to other teeth
It depends upon the tooth which is impacted and its location within the bone. If the tooth is an upper canine and in a favorable position then a surgical exposure of the tooth is done by orthodontic treatment and it is pulled back to its normal position. If the tooth is third molar, it is usually indicated for surgical removal.