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Fix impacted teeth
In most cases, people’s baby teeth loosen and fall out and their permanent, adult teeth erupt where the baby teeth were. Many times, these adult teeth don’t grow in completely straight and may need to be adjusted with an orthodontic treatment like braces or Invisalign, to correct the bite, adjust crowding, and improve the appearance of the smile. Some people’s adult teeth, however, develop in the jawbone yet never erupt at all. These are known as impacted teeth. Teeth usually become impacted because of overcrowding in the mouth. If there isn’t enough room for a new tooth to fit in the mouth, the tooth may remain impacted in the jaw, under the gums. Sometimes, the tip of the tooth will begin to erupt, reaching the gumline and possible poking through. Sometimes, the tooth remains stationary in the jaw and doesn’t erupt at all.
Wisdom teeth are among the most common teeth to be impacted. Wisdom teeth are often partly or completely impacted, or they may grow in crooked or sideways. This misalignment can have a negative effect on other teeth, either by pushing on the roots of nearby molars, or by pushing the adjacent teeth themselves out of alignment. These sorts of complications are why wisdom teeth are commonly extracted, sometimes before they have even begun to erupt. Upper canine teeth are also commonly impacted. This is usually for genetic reasons; if you have a family history of impacted upper canines, you are more likely to face this problem. Occasionally, both canines will be impacted, though it is more common for only one canine to remain unerupted. Because canines are the last of the permanent teeth to erupt, usually following incisors and premolars, by the time they are ready to erupt there is often no room among the other already-erupted teeth. The upper canines therefore have nowhere to go.
Many people with impacted teeth have no other symptoms; they simply have a tooth that won’t erupt. With some upper canines, the baby tooth may not even loosen without some dental assistance. However, the upper canines are clearly important, as they are visible while smiling and are an integral part of the structure of the mouth and jaw, taking on considerable pressure when chewing. Impacted teeth can have aesthetic effects, but they can also cause cavities, gum disease, or infection below the gumline, and they may even lead to nerve damage. Symptoms of these problems include pain and tenderness in the jawline, swollen gums or lymph nodes, bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, and a visible gap where the impacted tooth should be.
While it may not be possible to prevent a tooth from becoming impacted, impacted teeth can be treated. Impacted wisdom teeth are likely to be removed entirely, while other impacted teeth can be moved into their correct position with a combination of oral surgery and orthodontia. Dentists can discover impacted teeth through dental x-rays, and orthodontists can review these x-rays to determine the best course of action for each person’s specific treatment needs. Many dentists take x-rays regularly during examinations, so make sure to keep up with your regularly scheduled dental appointments, and, if you experience any discomfort or swelling in the gums or jaw, or any of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment with your dentist to learn more about your diagnosis and your treatment options.
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