Impaction refers a case where a tooth is unable to completely or partially erupt into the oral cavity. Impaction of teeth occurs mostly in third molars (wisdom teeth), however other teeth can also get impacted.Additionally, impaction is more common in the lower jaw in comparison to the upper jaw.
Causes of Tooth Impactions
Teeth may get impacted because of the following reasons
· Inadequate Space - Too little space in the jaw for all teeth to erupt
· Genetics – in some individuals, tooth impaction is a hereditary problem
· Adjacent Teeth – Excessively large or tilted adjacent teeth can hamper the eruption of teeth and cause impaction
· Firm Tissue Attachments – Excessive overlying soft tissue or bone attachment can prevent complete eruption of a tooth.
Symptoms of Tooth Impaction
Symptoms of a tooth impaction are:
· Pain in the region
· Swelling around the impacted tooth
· Food particles getting lodged
· Gum soreness (may be confused with throat infection)
· Difficulty in opening mouth (trismus)
Apart from the difficulties listed above, an untreated impacted wisdom tooth can cause the following dental complications.
· Gingival inflammationcan occur around the around the adjacent molar.
· Risk of periodontitis- Teeth adjacent to impacted teeth stand the risk of periodontal disease more than the other teeth. The inflamed gum allows bacteria to pass through to the tooth root surface which can lead to periodontitis. Normally the farther surfaces of such teeth are more likely to be affected because of the difficulty in cleaning.
· Tooth decay-Even though there may not be enough linkage between the mouth and the impacted third molar, caries may be initiated.
· Pericoronitis- is the infection of the soft tissue around the impacted tooth. Food trapping in the gum flap can cause periconitis.
· Adjacent tooth resorption- Pressure due to an impacted tooth can cause resorption in the adjacent tooth.
· Weakened jaw- An impacted tooth may weaken the jaw by occupying space which would otherwise be bone.
· Cystic degeneration resulting in a keratocyst or a dentigerous cyst.
· Peri-coronitis – the gum tissue surrounding the impacted tooth frequently gets inflamed. This condition is known as peri-coronitis.
Management of Impacted Teeth
Management of an impacted tooth usually involves extraction. Depending upon the degree and extent of the impaction, the dentist may have to perform a normal or surgical extraction of the tooth.