Impacted tooth

Mouth | Emergency Medicine | Impacted tooth (Disease)


Impacted and embedded teeth are the two main types of unerupted teeth found in the mouth, and can sometimes be confused with each other. In cases of both impacted and embedded teeth, the teeth remain below the surface of the gum and sometimes bone, rather than erupting into an exposed position within the mouth; however, the reason for the failure to erupt differs.

Causes and Risk factors

Impacted teeth result from a situation in which an unerupted tooth is wedged against another tooth or teeth or otherwise directed so that it cannot erupt normally. In contrast, an embedded tooth is an unerupted tooth that is covered, usually completely, with bone. The former is physically blocked in its path of eruption, while the latter is compromised by its lack of eruptive force often without known etiology. Certain systemic and local pathologic conditions may be associated with both.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The dentist will look for swollen tissue over the area where a tooth has not emerged, or has only partially emerged. The impacted tooth may be pressing on nearby teeth. The gums around the area may show signs of infection such as redness, drainage, and tenderness. As gums swell over impacted wisdom teeth and then drain and tighten, it may feel like the tooth came in and then went back down again.

No treatment may be needed if the impacted tooth is not causing any problems. Over-the-counter pain relievers may help if the impacted tooth causes discomfort. Warm salt water (one-half teaspoon of salt in one cup of water) or over-the-counter mouthwashes may be soothing to the gums. Removal of the tooth (extraction) is the usual treatment for an impacted tooth. This is usually done in the dentists office, but difficult cases may require an oral surgeon. Antibiotics may be prescribed before the extraction if the tooth is infected. ...

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