You may not experience any symptoms in some cases. In other cases, an impacted tooth may cause:
• Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
• Bad breath
• A bad taste in your mouth
• Difficulty opening your mouth
• Pain when opening your mouth, or when chewing and biting
Symptoms may come and go over weeks or months.
What causes an impacted tooth?
In general, a tooth becomes impacted when your mouth doesn't have enough space for it. This can be the result of genetics or orthodontic treatment.
Which teeth are most often impacted?
Wisdom teeth, which are usually the last teeth to grow in - typically between the ages of 17 to 21 - are most typically impacted.
By the time that wisdom teeth — also known as "third molars" — come in, the jaw has often stopped growing. The mouth and jaw may thus be too small to accommodate them. Because there's no real need for wisdom teeth anymore, they're typically removed if they're a problem. If you have a small jaw, you’re more likely to have impacted wisdom teeth.
The second most common teeth to be impacted are the maxillary canines, also referred to as the cuspid or upper eyeteeth. Because these teeth play a more important role in your mouth, your doctor is more likely to recommend treatments that encourage these teeth to erupt instead of removing them..
Waiting and monitoring
If your impacted tooth isn't causing any symptoms, your dentist may suggest a wait-and-see approach. With this approach, instead of surgically removing the tooth, your dentist will regularly monitor it so that they can see if any problems develop.
This will be easy to do if you go in for regular dental checkups.
If you're experiencing pain and other unpleasant side effects from an impacted tooth, your dentist may recommend extraction surgery, particularly in the case of impacted wisdom teeth. They may also recommend extraction if the impacted tooth will have a negative effect on other teeth.
Tooth extraction surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure at an oral surgeon's office, meaning you can go home the same day you have the procedure. The procedure usually takes 45 to 60 minutes, and you’ll likely be put under local anesthesia. Recovery may take 7 to 10 days, but you should be able to return to work or school within a few days of having the procedure.
When the canine teeth are impacted, eruption aids may be used to get the tooth to erupt properly. Eruption aids may include braces, brackets, or by extracting baby or adult teeth that may be blocking the canines. These methods are most effective when performed on younger people.
If eruption can't be achieved, then the impacted tooth will need to be removed and replaced with a dental implant or bridge.