An impacted tooth is a tooth that grows in at an awkward angle or does not fully break through the gums. This is especially common with wisdom teeth because the jaw is often too small for them, but the canines and other teeth can also become impacted as they grow in.
It’s important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of an impacted tooth. Impacted teeth should be removed with oral surgery, or they’ll become painful, infected, or damaged. Even impacted teeth that seem to be symptom-free could still be causing harm to the teeth and gums. If they go untreated, they can cause a number of other dental issues. Here are eight dangers of an impacted tooth:
Pain, Swelling, and Bleeding
An impacted tooth can cause pain for a variety of reasons. If the flap of gum on top of the tooth becomes infected, the area will feel sensitive and irritated. If the tooth is putting excess pressure on the surrounding teeth, you may feel an aching pain in the jaw. Aching or throbbing pain is usually the first symptom of an impacted tooth, so you should always take tooth pain seriously.
Swelling and bleeding are also common consequences of an impacted tooth and can contribute to the pain. The gums surrounding the tooth may swell up and bleed when you apply pressure. This can make brushing and flossing the area difficult, but neglecting the surrounding teeth can lead to more dental issues.
Reduced Jaw Mobility
Impacted teeth are partially or fully stuck in the jaw, so they can sometimes cause intense jaw pain and difficulty opening the mouth. This limited range of mobility can cause difficulty chewing and speaking, and it may get worse over time.
Bad Taste in Mouth
Impacted teeth and the surrounding gums are prone to infection, which can create a bad taste in your mouth. Depending on their location, they also can be more difficult to keep clean than other teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth are especially hard to reach with a toothbrush and floss, so it’s easy for bacteria and food debris to build up. This can cause a constant bad taste in your mouth, and it can contribute to bad breath.
Sometimes, impacted wisdom teeth press against the nerves in the lower jaw. If the impacted tooth isn’t removed, this can damage the nerve over time and cause permanent damage. It may lead to numbness, tingling, burning, or other uncomfortable sensations in the jaw or lips.
Damage to Other Teeth
Impacted teeth push on the adjacent teeth, which can cause serious damage. The pressure from the impacted tooth may cause the adjacent tooth to fall out of place or become more vulnerable to infections. The longer the impacted tooth goes untreated, the more the surrounding teeth will be affected, and the worse the pain and damage will become.
Because it’s difficult to brush and floss an impacted tooth and the surrounding area, cavities and tooth decay are both very common. Food particles will become trapped around the impacted tooth, and the bacteria will cause infections and decay. If the adjacent teeth are also affected, they will need dental treatment or extraction along with the impacted tooth.
Gum infections and gum disease are common but serious results of an impacted tooth. An impacted tooth may start to break through the gum line, but it won’t completely emerge. This leaves an opening for food particles and bacteria to enter and become trapped. Because it’s so difficult to brush and floss an impacted tooth, any bacteria that reaches the area could get trapped and spread around the gums and to other teeth.
Your wisdom teeth grow in a sac within your jaw. If they become impacted, the sacs can fill up with fluid and form cysts. Large cysts can be painful, damage the nerves, and cause damage to the surrounding teeth. In severe cases, a cyst can affect the structure of the jawbone. When a cyst forms around an impacted tooth, the cyst will need to be removed along with the tooth during surgery.
It’s important to seek a professional when dealing with an impacted tooth. Consulting with a dental expert, such as Marc Lazare, DDS, will allow the opportunity to get an expert’s opinion on your situation since most are case-by-case scenario.