Teeth become impacted when they cannot erupt properly into the smile. The impaction may occur in the bone or in the soft tissue. A soft tissue impacted tooth has emerged through the bone but continues to be covered by gum tissue. Wisdom teeth are particularly prone to this issue, as many people do not have enough space in their jaws to accommodate proper eruption of these large teeth.
Problems with Impacted Teeth
When a wisdom tooth becomes impacted in the soft tissue, a number of problems can develop. Impacted wisdom teeth are susceptible to developing cysts and tumors. It’s also easy for bacteria to congregate in the area of an impacted tooth, creating the possibility of an infection or abscess. Impacted wisdom teeth may also cause discomfort for patients or compromise the alignment of the other teeth as they continue to attempt to erupt into the smile.
Tooth removal of a soft tissue impacted tooth requires a more specialized approach than the extraction of typical teeth. The surrounding tissue, whether it is soft tissue or bone, needs to be excised surgically in order to access and remove the tooth. Therefore, patients who want to pursue extraction of such teeth typically consult with an oral surgeon.
Planning for Tooth Extraction
The oral surgeon will take x-rays to determine the nature of the impacted tooth and plan the best approach for its extraction. Wisdom tooth removal usually can take place on an outpatient basis, with the patient resuming most normal activity (e.g. returning to school or work) within a few days.
It can be more difficult to remove impacted teeth in older patients because the roots of the teeth are longer and become more entrenched in the bone. Therefore, it is recommended that patients pursue wisdom tooth removal by their mid-twenties. The procedure is more straightforward and the recovery period shorter in younger patients.
If you think that you may have an impacted tooth, schedule a consultation at Jackson Oral Surgery to learn about your treatment options.