A tooth is said to be impacted when it does not fully break through the gum and flesh encloses a part or the entire tooth. Aside from flesh, a tooth could also be impacted by bone or by another tooth.

Moreover, tooth impaction is common in young adults and the wisdom teeth which are the third molar began to erupt in early adulthood. Tooth impaction occurs mostly with the last molars because they grow last and the lower ones are also limited by the angle of the mandible{lower jaw bone}

The flesh over an impacted tooth can become infected when food debris and plaque are trapped underneath it. The flesh over the impacted tooth is also constantly traumatised whenever you chew. When the flesh is infected or traumatised it causes the gum to be swollen leading to eventual infection of the impacted tooth and its neighbour after prolonged tooth decay.

Though some impacted teeth may be without issues it is advisable to have them treated because they are not functional and symptoms can someday start without a warning.
Rinsing with warm water and salt confers some relief but eventually, visiting the dental clinic is inevitable if you want a lasting solution.

Symptoms of tooth impaction

The warnings of partially erupted or interrupted teeth are severe and are mostly recurrent. The following are implicated in tooth impaction,

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums.
  • Bad breath.
  • A bad taste in the mouth.
  • Difficulty opening the mouth.
  • Pain when opening the mouth, or when chewing and biting.
  • Bleeding from the site of impaction.
  • Toothache.
  • Fleshy cover over tooth.
  • Excessive production of saliva.

Causes of tooth impaction

In general, a tooth becomes impacted when the mouth does not have adequate space for it. This can be the result of genetics, retained milk tooth, or trauma.

Affected teeth

The most typically affected teeth are lower wisdom teeth which are usually the last teeth to grow in — normally between the ages of 17 to 21 — are most commonly impacted.

By the time that wisdom teeth — also known as “third molars” — come in, the jaw has often stopped growing. The mouth and jaw may thus be too small to accommodate them.

The second most common teeth to be impacted are the maxillary canine. Because these canines play a more crucial role in the mouth, when they are impacted it is advisable not to have them removed but rather assisted to erupt into occlusion.


If you suspect you have an impacted tooth, visit a dentist as soon as possible. They can examine the teeth and take an X-ray of the mouth to determine if an impacted tooth is causing the symptoms. If it is, they can discuss the benefits and risks of treatment.

When to visit a dentist

Visit a dentist when you notice there is a piece of flesh covering your tooth. Have an impacted tooth checked whether it is giving issues or not. Because the position of an impacted tooth is crucial in it’s management, when deciding to leave an asymptomatic impacted tooth. If the impacted tooth meets the adjacent tooth at a sharp angle, a pocket will be created between them. This pocket will retain food debris and chewing friction will resorption of adjacent tooth. In the above case, it is advisable to have the impacted tooth removed even if it is not giving any issues.



If you’re feeling pain and other awful side effects from an impacted tooth, the dentist may recommend operculectomy{removal of the flesh over the tooth}, particularly in the case of impacted wisdom teeth. They may also recommend extraction if the impacted tooth will hurt other teeth.

Tooth extraction surgery is usually done as an outpatient procedure at the dental clinic, meaning you can go home the same day you have the procedure. The procedure usually takes 45 to 60 minutes, and you’ll likely be put under local anaesthesia. The healing may take 7 to 10 days or even more depend on the individual’s health, but you should be able to return to work or school within a few days of having the procedure.

When the canine teeth are impacted, eruption aids may be used to get the tooth to erupt properly. Eruption aids may include braces, brackets, or by extracting baby or adult teeth that may be blocking the canines. These methods are most effective when performed on younger people.

If eruption can’t be achieved, then the impacted tooth will need to be removed and replaced with a dental implant or bridge.


Since fully impacted teeth never break through the gums, they are difficult to clean or care for. This puts them at a higher risk for dental problems like:

  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Inability to open the mouth
  • Abscess
  • Ludwig Angina
  • Pericoronitis
  • Jaw osteomyelitis
  • Dentigerous cyst
  • Tumour
  • Toothache and toothache
  • Jaw fracture


If you have pain from an impacted tooth, you may be able to use over-the-counter medication to provide temporary relief. Rinsing the mouth with warm water and salt does give temporary relief. Ice may also help by reducing inflammation.

However, the best prevention for an impacted tooth is to have it treated before it starts giving issues.

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