Imagine sitting in a dental chair and hearing that you have an impacted tooth. Thoughts are now racing through your brain. What’s an impacted tooth, and how did I get one? What do I do now?
As your dentist in Pineville, Dr. Desameau will review your treatment options to make sure you are fully educated about the process. In many cases, he may recommend an extraction for the impacted tooth. Here, we will discuss what an impacted tooth is, what causes it, what to expect from an extraction, and post-care advice.
What is an impacted tooth?
An impacted tooth is one that, for one reason or another, has been blocked from erupting through the gums. It may be partially impacted, meaning it has started to break through, or fully impacted, meaning it cannot erupt.
Types of impacted teeth
As mentioned above, a tooth may be partially or fully impacted. It may be a soft-tissue or hard-tissue impaction. Soft tissue impaction refers to teeth that have erupted from the jawbone but not yet through the gums. Hard tissue impaction means the tooth is fully covered by the gums and bone.
Impacted teeth may be angled toward the front, back, or sides of the mouth. Their positions affect the potential damage that may occur and influence the treatment recommendations.
Symptoms of an impacted tooth
Impacted teeth may or may not cause outward signs of a problem. Some patients may be completely unaware of an impacted tooth until it appears on a dental x-ray. Other common symptoms of an impacted tooth include:
- Gums that are red, swollen, or bleeding
- Bad breath or halitosis
- A foul taste in your mouth
- Problems opening your mouth
- Pain when chewing or eating
Symptoms of an impacted tooth may come and go over a period of weeks or months. That is why it is important to see a dentist regularly as x-rays can detect and monitor a potential problem.
Generally speaking, a tooth becomes impacted when there isn’t enough room for it. This may be genetic or result from orthodontic treatment.
The wisdom teeth are the most commonly impacted teeth. These are the last teeth to erupt and typically appear between ages 17 and 21. Impacted wisdom teeth occur because there often isn’t adequate space for them, especially for patients with small jaws.
The upper canines are the second most commonly impacted teeth. This is more common in young children as their permanent teeth try to erupt. However, since these teeth are important for your oral health, your dentist may recommend treatments to aid in eruption.
With or without symptoms, a physical evaluation is necessary to diagnose an impacted tooth. The evaluation may include:
- Questions about your symptoms and dental health
- An examination of the teeth and gums
- An x-ray to confirm the position of the tooth and to assess the damage to the teeth, gum tissue, or bone
Should an impacted tooth be removed?
Since a fully impacted tooth cannot erupt, you will never be able to care for it. However, it can cause problems under the gum line. The tooth pushes into or against the adjacent teeth which may create a domino effect of tooth crowding and shifting. This disrupts the balance of the mouth and bite as the teeth move out of alignment.
A partially impacted tooth is difficult to clean properly and raises the risks of dental problems. Partially impacted teeth have an increased likelihood of the following:
- Tooth decay
- Tooth crowding
- Gum disease
In some cases, an impacted tooth can be left alone. However, they often need to be treated to reduce the risks of complications or future dental problems. Regular dental check-ups help monitor the impacted tooth, and allow your dentist to create an appropriate treatment plan.
Can my Pineville dentist take out an impacted tooth?
A dentist or oral surgeon can perform an extraction. Your dentist can pull and remove most teeth. Some dentists have surgical training and can perform most extraction cases. However, if a tooth is deeply impacted or requires an in-depth approach, he may refer you to an oral surgeon.
Treatment for an impacted tooth
As mentioned above, if an impacted tooth is not at risk for developing issues, your dentist may follow the “watch and see” method. This allows him to monitor the tooth and watch for potential changes. If a change occurs, a treatment plan is established.
In most cases, a tooth extraction is advised. This is an outpatient procedure that involves delicately opening the gum tissue, removing the tooth, and suturing the treatment site. The entire procedure takes 45-60 minutes. Although recovery is 7-10 days as the mouth heals, patients can return to work or school within a few days.
For younger patients, sometimes the canines are impacted. In these cases, eruption aids such as braces or brackets help by creating space for the canine to erupt. Removing the baby teeth that are blocking the permanent tooth may be recommended as well.
Risks and complications
As with any procedure, there are potential complications. Prior to your extraction, your dentist will review the pros and cons, so you can make an informed decision. At this time, your tooth replacement options will also be reviewed, if a replacement tooth is necessary.
Following a tooth extraction, patients may experience dry socket, pain and swelling, reduced mouth opening, bleeding, and lip numbness. Most of these side effects will subside on their own as the mouth heals. However, if you experience excessive pain or bleeding, contact your dentist right away.
Does it hurt to get an impacted tooth removed?
Your comfort is a priority during all dental procedures, including a tooth extraction. To prepare, your dentist will use a local anesthesia to numb the area around the treatment site. This eliminates any pain or discomfort during the procedure. After the treatment, your dentist may prescribe a pain medication to relieve your pain as the anesthetic wears off.
Post-care tips for tooth removal
After a tooth extraction, your dental team will give you aftercare instructions for the recovery period. The following do’s and don’ts will reduce the chances of infection and help your mouth heal.
Do’s after tooth extraction
- Rest and allow your body to heal.
- Apply an ice pack or frozen peas to your cheeks to help minimize swelling, bleeding, and discomfort.
- Take your medication (antibiotics and/or pain relievers) as recommended by your dentist. Antibiotics help reduce bacteria in the mouth to prevent infections, and pain relievers control your comfort level.
- Eat soft foods, such as soups, yogurts, smoothies, and applesauce, to avoid disturbing the treatment site.
- Cleanse your mouth gently. Use a saltwater rinse, but do not spit forcefully. After 24 hours, you can resume your normal hygiene routine without touching the treatment area.
Don’ts after tooth extraction
- Do not smoke. Smoking is bad for your oral and overall health, but it may also slow the recovery process.
- Do not eat hard foods, such as popcorn or peanuts. They can dislodge the blood clot or get stuck in the extraction site.
- Do not eat spicy foods which may irritate your mouth.
- Do not floss around the extraction site as you could disrupt the clot.
- Do not overdo it. Let your body rest for 24 hours so that your immune response kicks in to start the healing process. The day after surgery, you can slowly get back into your routines.
Safe, affordable tooth extractions in Pineville
At Radiant Smiles Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, your comfort and oral health are our top priorities. A tooth extraction requires precise techniques, attention-to-detail, and post-care. We provide safe, affordable tooth extractions in Pineville. Whether your extraction is straightforward and simple or a more complex, impacted tooth removal, we have you covered.