How to Tell if a Tooth is Impacted

Posted on: May 9, 2023 | Blog

An impacted tooth is a painful condition that can happen in multiple ways. You might wonder if you have an impacted tooth or a different condition that is affecting your tooth. Here are a few ways to tell if a tooth is impacted. This can help you find the right treatment options and work with your dentist most effectively.

What is an Impacted Tooth?

It’s helpful to understand what an impacted tooth is first. An impacted tooth is a tooth that fails to emerge or fully develop in the mouth. The tooth gets stuck either in the jawbone or underneath the gums and it can’t fully emerge. You might see a part of the tooth, but the rest might be covered by the gums. Or, the tooth might be pushing towards other teeth underneath the gums, and you might not see any part of it. This often occurs due to overcrowding or a lack of space in the mouth.

Some types of impaction are more common than others, but tooth impactions can occur with any type of tooth. Here are a few of the different types of impacted teeth.

  • Canine Impaction: The canine teeth are the pointed teeth next to the front teeth. When these fail to emerge, it’s called canine impaction.
  • Wisdom Tooth Impaction: Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last teeth to develop, usually between the ages of 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth can become impacted if there is not enough room in the mouth for them to emerge fully.
  • Premolar Impaction: Premolars are the teeth located between the canine teeth and molars. Impacted premolars are less common than other types of impactions, but they can still occur.
  • Incisor Impaction: This occurs when the front teeth, also known as incisors, fail to emerge or develop properly.

How to Tell if a Tooth is Impacted

Now that you know what an impacted tooth is, let’s take a look at some signs of an impacted tooth. Here’s how you can tell if a tooth is impacted.

  • Pain or discomfort: Impacted teeth can cause pain or discomfort in the jaw, gums, or neighboring teeth. The pain may be intermittent or continuous and may worsen when you bite down or chew. The severity of the pain can range from mild to severe, depending on the degree of impaction.
  • Swollen gums: Impacted teeth can cause swelling and tenderness in the gums around the affected area. The gums may also be red and inflamed. This is because the impacted tooth can push against the gum tissue, causing irritation and inflammation.
  • Bad breath: Impacted teeth can cause bad breath, as they can trap food particles and bacteria, which can be difficult to remove with brushing and flossing. This can lead to infection and decay, which causes bad breath. The bad breath can be persistent and difficult to eliminate, even with regular brushing and flossing.
  • Difficulty opening your mouth: If the impacted tooth is causing swelling or inflammation, you may find it difficult to open your mouth fully. This can make it challenging to eat or speak comfortably.
  • Headaches: Impacted teeth can cause headaches, particularly if they are putting pressure on nearby nerves. These headaches can be dull or throbbing and may be felt in the temples or back of the head.

How to Treat an Impacted Tooth

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible. These symptoms are unlikely to go away on their own, and will probably get worse. Your dental professional can perform a dental exam and take X-rays to see if you have an impacted tooth and determine the best course of treatment.

Treatment for an impacted tooth typically involves removing the tooth or making space for it to emerge fully. In some cases, your dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment to realign your teeth and prevent future impactions.

If you think you have an impacted tooth, make an appointment with a dentist right away. Your dentist can give you more information and provide you with the best treatment options. Even if you don’t have an impacted tooth, your dentist can find any other issues that might be causing you pain or discomfort. If you live in the Las Vegas area and you have questions about impacted teeth, make an appointment with one of our dentists today.


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