Impacted Teeth

“I have this sore spot on my gums where there’s a space between my teeth.  What causes that?”

“How come I still have bad breath, even though I brush, floss, and use mouthwash regularly?”

“I thought I had a throat infection, but my GP says no. Then why are my gums swollen?”

All of those symptoms – and others — could be caused by an impacted tooth.  Impacted teeth are teeth that fail to break through the gums or have only partially emerged. Usually, your teeth first start to pass through the gums during infancy, and then again when your baby teeth are replaced by your permanent ones.  When a tooth fails to come in or doesn’t come in fully, it is considered to be impacted. This most often happens with the wisdom teeth, which are the last to emerge, usually between the ages of 17 and 21.

Impacted teeth are common, and there are various reasons why an impacted tooth remains stuck in gum tissue or bone. Sometimes, a tooth may become twisted, tilted, or displaced as it tries to emerge. It might be the area in your mouth is overcrowded so there’s no room for the tooth to emerge. For example, the jaw may be too small to fit the wisdom teeth.

Often, impacted teeth are discovered by x-rays during annual dental exams. Typically, you are not in pain unless the tooth begins to rub on or push against another tooth, causing discomfort.  Over time, this can cause a misalignment of the bite or other issues.  For example, a partially emerged tooth can trap food, plaque, and other debris in the soft tissue around it, which can result in inflammation and tenderness of the gums and unpleasant mouth odor. This is called pericoronitis. The retained debris may also lead to the decay on tooth or on neighboring teeth.

Dr. Cordini will be able to monitor whether or not you may have problems in the future. He will look for swollen tissue over the area where a tooth has not emerged or has only partially emerged, and check to see whether the impacted tooth may be pressing on nearby teeth. The gums around the area may show signs of infection such as redness, drainage, and tenderness. As gums swell over impacted wisdom teeth and then drain and tighten, you may feel like the tooth came in and then went back down again.


If the impacted tooth is not causing any pain or other problems, no treatment may be needed other than monitoring it on a regular basis. Minor discomfort can be remedied with over-the-counter pain relievers. Warm salt water (one-half teaspoon of salt in one cup of water) or over-the-counter mouthwashes may be soothing to the gums.

If an impacted tooth is causing continued discomfort and pain, extraction of the tooth will resolve the issue.  This is a simple procedure performed in the office under general anesthesia. The Cordini team will ensure that your experience will be as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Antibiotics may be prescribed before the extraction if the tooth is infected.


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