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Impacted Tooth

Alternate Names

  • unerupted tooth
  • partially erupted tooth
  • Tooth with Abscess
  • X-Ray of Mouth with Impacted Tooth

Definition

An impacted tooth is a tooth that has not fully erupted into the oral cavity. The tooth is still imbedded in the jawbone, under the gum tissue.

What is going on in the body?

Unerupted or partially impacted wisdom teeth are common in the teenage years. Often there is not enough room for the tooth to fully erupt. Food debris can become trapped around the partially erupted tooth. The second most commonly impacted tooth is the canine, or cuspid.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

Impacted teeth are most common during adolescence.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the condition?

There is no way to prevent a tooth impaction. If the dental care provider determines that there is not enough room in the mouth for the tooth, it may be removed.

Diagnosed

How is the condition diagnosed?

Diagnosis of an impacted tooth begins with a medical history and dental exam. Dental X-rays can show the problem area.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

An impacted tooth can sometimes cause pressure on the other teeth and a change in the bite. A rare complication is a cyst, or fluid-filled sac, that forms in the tissue around the unerupted tooth.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the condition?

If the person is having no symptoms, the impacted tooth may be left in place. Usually, however, the dental provider will recommend removing the impacted tooth. The extraction is usually delayed until any infection is controlled. Surgical drainage of a local area of infection may be necessary before the extraction can be scheduled.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

Pain medication may be necessary before and after treatment. Antibiotics may be necessary but should only be taken as prescribed by the healthcare professional. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

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