What is an Impacted Tooth and What to Expect if Your Child Has One

Orthodontic care is an important part of oral health. When a child gets an early start on orthodontic treatment, they are more likely to avoid serious complications. One of the most distressing of those: Impacted teeth.

When you think of the most common oral health issues, cavities probably come to mind first. Cavities are serious, of course, and need care. But in orthodontics, another issue can arise that may be even more serious. In fact, an impacted tooth or two can affect the entire mouth.

What Is an Impacted Tooth?

Impacted tooth describes any tooth that isn’t coming in the way it should. There are different kinds of impacted teeth depending on exactly what’s happening with the tooth. During an orthodontic exam, impacted teeth may be classified in any of these ways:

  • A tooth that hasn’t come in (“erupted”) when it is expected to
  • A tooth that can’t erupt because there’s no room for it to do so
  • A tooth that can’t erupt because it’s coming in at the wrong angle

Who Gets Impacted Teeth?

Among adults in their early 20s, impacted wisdom teeth are by far the most common of all impacted teeth. You could end up with impacted wisdom teeth even if all of your other teeth came in easily. But impacted teeth are a concern throughout life, whenever new teeth are coming in.

An impacted tooth can happen during the teething ages, which start around six months of age for most infants. It can also happen as the primary teeth are shed and the permanent teeth start to come in – at around six or seven years of age and through the teenage years.

Most babies start teething within six months of birth, but this can happen a little bit earlier or later. There are even cases where a child will be born with one or more teeth. The earlier the teeth emerge, the sooner you should find a Port Orange orthodontist for your family.

Why Do People Get Impacted Teeth?

If your child has an impacted tooth, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the family’s dental hygiene. In fact, whether or not someone gets impacted teeth has nothing to do with whether they’re brushing, flossing, using mouthwash, or eating a healthy diet.

Although almost everybody ends up with 32 permanent teeth, everyone is different in how their mouth and jaw develop. The wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are so troublesome precisely because there is not enough room for them, even when the other teeth have come in beautifully.

If teeth are already crowded, then future teeth are more likely to be impacted. This risk factor is one big reason it’s vital to build a relationship with a trusted Port Orange orthodontist early in life. But impacted teeth can happen to anyone, and early treatment is the best form of protection.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth: A Common Oral Health Worry

Not everyone has wisdom teeth. In fact, anywhere between 5% and 37% of people are missing at least one, and some never develop any. Wisdom teeth aren’t necessary for dental functioning, so it is often for the best when they never show up! Of all teeth, they are the most likely to cause issues.

If a person’s jaw has enough space and their other teeth are straight and healthy, wisdom teeth might not create any problems at all. In cases like this, they simply need to be cared for like other teeth. That may require changes in brushing and flossing techniques to be sure you reach them.

When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it can be removed by a maxillofacial surgeon. After tooth extraction, the mouth heals by growing new gum tissue around the socket. This process can take anywhere from a few months to about a year depending on the position of the tooth and how it was removed.

What Happens When a Child Has an Impacted Tooth?

Impacted teeth vary in how urgently they need to be treated. Some cause no discomfort at all, while others are very painful. A severely painful impacted tooth can be treated as an oral health emergency. One that is not uncomfortable gives you a bit more leeway, but it should still be taken seriously.

Tooth extraction is the normal course of treatment for an impacted wisdom tooth, even one that isn’t painful. This is because, by and large, an impacted tooth is more likely than other teeth to suffer from tooth decay. Some parts of the tooth may be difficult to reach and keep clean.

If baby teeth are causing problems with the emergence of adult teeth, then the problem teeth can be extracted to make room. This is a quick procedure since those teeth are generally ready to come out! Recovery time may be only a few days compared to the longer recovery from wisdom tooth surgery.

It is essential to help adult teeth erupt in a timely and healthy way whenever possible. Adult teeth can become impacted because of the impacted teeth standing in their way. When adult teeth are impacted, it might require extraction and the use of a dental implant or bridge – that’s no one’s favorite option.

Naturally, the goal of both orthodontists and dentists is to preserve as many healthy teeth as possible for patients of any age. Young patients whose teeth are not erupting on schedule can benefit from the orthodontist’s expertise with eruption aids like metal braces or brackets.

Using Eruption Aids to Help Teeth

Braces are the most common and most effective eruption aids around. They help ensure the health of incoming teeth by aligning existing ones in a healthy way. While it is never too late to enjoy the benefits of braces, it is always best to start as early as possible when impacted teeth are a concern.

A Port Orange orthodontist can spot potential trouble as early as age seven. At this point, enough teeth have come in that it’s possible to recognize problems in their early stages. Braces, expanders, and other treatments usually have their fastest effects at this young age.

With the right eruption aids in place, more teeth are likely to come in on time and in a healthy position. This may make it unnecessary for the patient to wear braces after the permanent teeth arrive. Or, if braces are still needed, it can cut months off the total treatment time.

Improve Your Family’s Oral Health with Help from a Port Orange Orthodontist

Impacted teeth can be stressful and scary, especially for the youngest patients. Here at Beauchamp Orthodontics, our goal is to make things easier. We create a comfortable environment for kids and adults.

A complete orthodontic examination will give you the information you need to make an informed choice about treatment options and oral health. You and your loved ones can meet Dr. Beauchamp and get all your questions answered.

Ready to find out more? Schedule a consultation to get started today.


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