Impacted teeth are unerupted or partially
erupted teeth that cannot fully erupt due to:
- Lack of space (crowding)
- Misalignment (tooth is rotated out of position)
- Conflicting position (another tooth has erupted
over that position)
- Ankylosis - when other causes of impaction are not
corrected in a timely manner, the roots of the impacted
tooth can fuse to the surrounding bone creating a
tooth frozen in an unerupted or partially erupted
The teeth most likely to become impacted
are the third molars, also known as "wisdom
teeth." The first molars are also known as
the 6-year molars since they generally erupt at around
age 6, and the second molars are also known as the 12-year
molars since they generally erupt at around age 12.
If the third molars erupted normally, they might be
called 18-year molars. But there is rarely enough space
to fit these last teeth into the small space left behind
the second molars, so the third molars often become
x-ray shows the impacted 3rd molars (wisdom
The upper wisdom teeth are crowding the sinus
cavity and may erode the roots of the 2nd molars.
The lower wisdom teeth are impacted sideways
and are likely to cause crowding of the lower
teeth, leading to malocclusion.
The most important thing to know about
impacted teeth is that they almost always require extraction.
The longer the extraction is postponed, the longer the
tooth roots grow. When the tooth roots of an impacted
tooth are allowed to develop, the risk of complication
due to extraction increases significantly because the
tooth roots may "wrap around" sensitive facial
The risks of keeping an impacted tooth
extend beyond the impacted tooth itself. Any impacted
tooth will exert forces on the arch of your smile that
may cause unnecessary crowding of your teeth. An impacted
tooth below the gum surface may erode the roots of adjacent
teeth. An impacted tooth above the gum line may create
a "food trap" that is difficult to brush or
floss and is likely to lead to decay.
If you have an impacted tooth and you
are not FULLY aware of the risks and alternatives associated
with keeping or extracting an impacted tooth, please
Contact Us for an appointment.
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