Impacted Teeth

Impacted teeth – those that fail to erupt properly into the smile – can be problematic in a number of ways, yet it is quite common for some teeth to become impacted. When this happens, the patient may face risks of multiple issues that can compromise their oral health.

Even when the impacted teeth are not in a highly visible location of the smile, as is the case with the wisdom teeth, patients may choose to have these teeth extracted to reduce the risk of problems. Removal of impacted teeth requires a surgical procedure in order to remove surrounding bone and access the teeth.

We encourage any patients who need to have an impacted tooth removed to reach out and schedule a consultation. Learn about all of the benefits and risks of this procedure so that you can make an informed treatment decision.

Why Teeth Become Impacted

Teeth may fail to erupt properly for different reasons. The third molars, otherwise known as the wisdom teeth, are the most likely culprits to become impacted. These teeth are quite large, and most modern humans don’t have large enough jaws to allow them to erupt properly.

Impacted Canines x-ray

As a result, the wisdom teeth often become stuck in the jawbone, where they can cause the problems discussed in greater detail below. The wisdom teeth are the last to erupt, so it may not be evident that they are impacted until the patient is in their mid-teens or even later.

Teeth may also become impacted when the primary teeth remain in place too long, and the permanent teeth do not have the opportunity to erupt on the anticipated timeline. This phenomenon is most often the mechanism underlying impacted canine teeth.

Risks Associated With Impacted Teeth

Impacted teeth aren’t merely a nuisance. They can cause significant problems with your smile. If left in place, impacted teeth can:

  • Be more vulnerable to tumors and cysts
  • Cause discomfort
  • Negatively affect the smile’s appearance, depending on the location of the tooth
  • Increase the risk of infection and abscesses

To avoid such risks, patients with known or suspected impacted teeth should consult with an oral surgeon for evaluation and possible treatment.

Treatment For Impacted Teeth

Impacted teeth will need to be uncovered in a surgical procedure, as it is necessary to first excavate surrounding bone in order to access the teeth. Our advanced imaging technology facilitates treatment planning that results in a more predictable and efficient procedure.

The indicated treatment approach depends on the location of the tooth. Wisdom teeth are superfluous and can be extracted with no effect on the smile’s function or appearance. It is easier to remove the wisdom teeth in younger patients, so it’s recommended that people pursue this treatment by age 25.

Older patients can still have their wisdom teeth extracted, but the procedure is more complex and followed by a lengthier recovery period.

When teeth in highly visible locations, such as the canines, become impacted, it warrants a collaborative approach that typically involves an oral surgeon and an orthodontist. The oral surgeon will expose the tooth, and the orthodontist will move the tooth into the desired location with braces.

Common Impacted Teeth Questions

Will, it hurt to have my impacted tooth extracted?

You will not have any discomfort during the tooth extraction procedure. We use local anesthetic and sedation to ensure your comfort. After the local anesthetic wears off, you may experience some mild discomfort. However, this should resolve within a couple of days and usually can be managed with over-the-counter painkillers. Many patients actually find that having an impacted tooth extracted ultimately gives them pain relief if the affected tooth was causing discomfort itself.

Does insurance cover the extraction of an impacted tooth?

Dental insurance often covers at least a portion of the costs associated with the extraction of an impacted tooth, but coverage varies from plan to plan. We advise you to reach out to our experienced billing staff with any insurance-related questions you may have. They will work closely with you to maximize all available insurance benefits.

Do I need to have my wisdom teeth extracted?

Patients may wonder why we are recommending the extraction of wisdom teeth that aren’t causing them any problems. This is a fair question. Because it is impossible to predict when an impacted tooth can develop issues and become symptomatic, many patients will choose to have the wisdom teeth extracted as a preventive measure. Ultimately, this can protect your oral health from serious issues such as abscesses and infections. If you have any concerns about a recommended wisdom tooth extraction, don’t hesitate to ask us so that we can give you all of the information that you need.

How long will it take to recover after wisdom tooth extraction?

Most patients will need to take no more than a few days off of work or school following wisdom tooth extraction, although if you have a highly active job, you may need to take a few extra days to recuperate. Keep in mind that this timeline presumes no complications, which can lead to an extended recovery. In order to minimize your risk of post-extraction complications that can disrupt your routine, we strongly encourage you to adhere to our instructions for self-care after your extraction.