Impacted tooth is a medical condition where a newly emerging tooth is unable to fully emerge and gets stuck midway in the gum. New tooth emerges first in infants, where they are called primary teeth and are temporary. Later, these primary teeth are replaced by the permanent secondary teeth. If these teeth are unable to completely emerge from the jaws, the condition is called impacted teeth. Impacted teeth are most commonly observed in wisdom teeth, which are the last molars. A newly emerging tooth may become impacted due to a number of reasons. The secondary teeth may become impacted if the primary teeth do not fall off before the new ones emerge. Wisdom teeth may become impacted if the size of the jaw is too small for the newly emerging wisdom tooth. Apart from this, growing teeth may tilt, twist, or become slightly displace while emerging, causing them, or the next ones in line to become impacted.
Impacted teeth are not uncommon, and they usually do not cause significant health concerns. However, an impacted tooth may push against the next teeth in line, causing them to be misaligned which may give rise to more impacted teeth or a misaligned bite. Impacted teeth can also trap food particles and are difficult to clean out. Trapped food particles in teeth may give rise to oral problems like bad odour, plaque formation, infection, cavities, etc.
Surgical methods are the commonest and safest ways to treat impacted teeth. Conventional medications and home remedies are applicable to reduce pain and chances of infection.
Impacted teeth are best treated by simple surgical procedures. If a tooth is impacted, an incision can be made on the gum over the tooth to facilitate its emerging. The impacted tooth may also be removed surgically, especially if it is causing pain, putting pressure on the teeth next to it, or is trapping food particles causing a chance of oral problems. Surgical removal is advised since it is a simple procedure with little chance of further complications arising. Surgery is also recommended to remove an impacted wisdom tooth early after its emergence since the chances of complications increase as the tooth ages and its root becomes longer and more elaborately curved. Simple painkillers and antiseptic mouthwashes may be used to counter any pain arising from the impacted tooth and prevent chances of infection.
Impacted teeth may appear during replacement of primary teeth with secondary teeth, usually in toddlers. Wisdom teeth are most commonly impacted and these generally appear within 17 to 21 years of age. Usually impacted teeth do not pose serious health issues. However, treatment needs to be undergone if there is pain in the impacted tooth, jaw, or throat. Treatment is also advisable upon appearance of symptoms like foul odour in mouth, bleeding or sore gums, plaque formation, or cavities in the impacted tooth. Wisdom teeth are most commonly impacted and their surgical removal is commonly advised.
No treatment is required if the impacted tooth does not cause problems. Removal or other treatment options are usually not recommended if the impacted teeth are not premolars or molars.
Treatment for impacted teeth usually have no side effects. In rare cases some complications may arise, including discomfort, infection of the tooth socket, pain from exposed jawbone, damage to adjoining teeth, etc.
There are no specific post treatment guidelines prescribed to recover after treatment of an impacted tooth. General guidelines include avoiding putting stress on the side from which a tooth has been removed. Artificial dentures may be prescribed if a removed tooth causes misaligned bite or other similar problems.
Recovery from a surgical extraction of tooth does not usually take longer than 4 to 6 weeks.
Cost of treatment for impacted teeth usually ranges between Rs. 500 to Rs. 10,000. The cost may go higher if further complications develop.
Surgical procedures are usually the commonest treatment method for impacted teeth and the results of such treatment are permanent.
There are alternative methods of treatment for the condition. Individuals suffering from herniated disc can go to a chiropractor for spinal manipulation; Acupuncture, massage and yoga are some other methods of treating herniated disc.