How Serious is an Impacted Tooth?

It can be extremely painful for patients to deal with impacted teeth. In addition to the pain, there can be other symptoms associated with the condition. Untreated impaction can cause serious side effects. Although it is rare, it can be fatal in severe cases. It is important for patients who have symptoms of an impacted tooth to contact their dentist immediately. The dentist will perform an examination to determine and discuss treatment options.


Impacted teeth occur when a tooth fails to properly erupt. The wisdom teeth are commonly impacted, however, any tooth that does not move into the correct position can be impacted. Prior to experiencing symptoms, x-rays can help detect impacted teeth. This is one of the benefits of obtaining x-rays during regular checkups. Symptoms commonly associated with impacted teeth are listed below:

  1. Foul taste or bad breath
  2. Difficulty opening the mouth which may be sporadic
  3. Gum or jaw pain
  4. Aches in the head or jaw
  5. Redness or swelling of the gums around the affected tooth
  6. Swollen or enlarged lymph nodes
  7. Space where the tooth was supposed to be

Impacted teeth can be quite serious. Patients should follow up with their dentist as soon as possible for treatment. Impacted teeth which become infected can quickly spread to other areas of the body and mouth. Patients with chronic infection can suffer from serious issues such as heart disease, brain damage, or death.

The dentist will examine the mouth and identify if there is swollen tissue covering the impacted tooth. The tooth may partially emerge in some cases. Impacted teeth can also press against the adjacent teeth and cause movement or pain. The gum tissue surrounding the tooth can begin to show signs of infection. This can include redness, drainage, and discomfort. Gums which swell over an impacted tooth, the drain and  tighten can give patients the impression that the tooth erupted and then went back down. Dentists use x-rays to confirm if a tooth is impacted below the gumline.


In most cases, the recommended treatment for impacted teeth is extraction of the tooth. Once the dentist completes the examination and diagnosis, they will discuss possible treatment options. When the tooth is infected, the dentist may write a prescription for antibiotics. This treats the infection before the tooth is removed. When the patient has an impacted tooth in the front of the mouth, braces can be used to shift the tooth into the desired location.

In some cases, impacted teeth may not cause any noticeable symptoms. When there are no issues, the impacted teeth may not need to be removed. X-rays can give the dentist insight into the situation and help them in determining if the teeth can safely remain in place without causing issues.

Impacted teeth don’t always cause issues and may not require any form of treatment. Patients with suspected impaction should follow up with their dentist who can help determine how to proceed. When the impaction is detected before the onset of symptoms, treatment can be highly successful .


Some of the possible complications associated with impacted teeth include the following:

  • Pain or discomfort
  • Abscess
  • Infection
  • Nerve damage
  • Alignment issues with the teeth
  • Plaque accumulation on the teeth and gums
  • Gum disease

Impacted teeth should ideally be removed prior to the patient turning 20 as the roots are still developing at this age. Before the roots are fully developed, it is easier to remove the tooth. This also helps expedite the healing process. As the roots of the teeth mature, they become longer and start to curve. The bone will become more rigid and can cause complications for extraction.

Patients who notice any issues with their teeth or suspect they may have an impacted tooth should follow up with a dentist right away. The dentist will complete an evaluation to determine the best treatment plan.

If You Don_t Remove Impacted Teeth