You cannot prevent an impacted tooth but good hygiene like brushing and flossing can help reduce the risk of an infection or consequences to other teeth.
When enough space isn’t there for a tooth to erupt in the mouth, it occurs as an impacted tooth. Most of the times third molars, also known as wisdom teeth emerge impacted.
Impacted tooth cannot be prevented but good dental hygiene like brushing, flossing or the use of water-jet devices can reduce the risk of infection.
Causes of Impacted Tooth
The average age of getting wisdom teeth is between 17 to 21 years of age, and they can become impacted if there isn’t enough room for them to erupt freely in the mouth.
Humans have a small jawbone which doesn’t allow wisdom teeth to come out in a free manner. This causes the impacted teeth to grow slanted, horizontally, or even to be completely buried inside the jaw.
Consequences of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Because an impacted tooth doesn’t grow properly in the mouth, there can be certain consequences to this, like:
Pericoronitis- This complication usually occurs in the lower jaw where food debris and bacteria get trapped in the space between the crown of the wisdom tooth and the overlying gum. This can result into an infection of the surrounding tissues. This infected and swollen gum is hurt by the opposing upper tooth making it more difficult for it to heal.
Pericoronitis can cause:
- Pain and swelling of the cheek
- Difficulty in opening the mouth
- Pain when swallowing
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Bad breath
Tooth Decay- The adjacent tooth to the impacted one over-covers it, making it difficult to clean the surfaces between. The plaque keeps accumulating there and causes the tooth to decay.
Root Resorption- The dental plaque in impacted tooth causes inflammation to the surrounding tissues along with thrusting pressure on the adjacent tooth to find some place. This may cause the adjacent tooth to resorb.
Impacted tooth can also cause some pathological changes such as cysts in the mouth.
Management of Impacted Tooth
If the impacted tooth is completely embedded in the jaw bone, or if the partially erupted wisdom tooth has no discomfort and doesn’t cause any problem to adjacent tissues, it may not be necessary to remove it.
However, one must maintain good oral hygiene to prevent any problem. On the other hand, if the impacted wisdom tooth causes frequent discomfort or causes severe problems, it may have to be extracted.
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