If your dentist has used the term “impacted” in regards to your teeth, you might not be sure what exactly that means. An impacted tooth is one that is “stuck” and unable to erupt through the gums in order to function as intended. This often happens with the third molars, otherwise known as the wisdom teeth. These teeth tend to get stuck in the back portion of the jaw, and if left untreated, they can develop a painful infection as well as a host of other problems. Since most of us don’t need the wisdom teeth, they are often extracted if they start to develop a problem.
The upper eyetooth, otherwise known as the maxillary cuspid, is the second most likely tooth to be impacted. This tooth plays a critical role both your bite and the dental arch. The cuspid teeth serve as strong biting teeth, and they will have the longest roots of any of your teeth. They will be the first teeth that touch when you close your jaws together, and they will serve as a guide to ensure the rest of your teeth are in proper alignment.
The cuspid teeth of the maxilla are usually the last of the front teeth to erupt and move into place. This typically happens around the time we turn 13 years old, and any space that was left between the front teeth on the top jaw will close together tightly. If a cuspid is impacted, your dentist will make every effort to get it to erupt into its proper position. These techniques can be used on any impacted tooth of either jaw, but mostly they are applied to the upper eyeteeth. About 60% of these impacted eyeteeth will be located on the roof of the mouth, and the remaining teeth are found in the supporting bone, but stuck in a position that leaves them elevated above the roots of the adjacent teeth.
Impacted Teeth can either be extracted or exposed depending on the space available in the jaw.
If you will be having a surgery to expose an impacted tooth, you’ll be happy to know that the procedure is fairly straightforward. We will typically coordinate with your orthodontist regarding the appropriate timing to he procedure. Your surgeon will evaluate your situation to determine which option for sedation is right for you.
The procedure typically takes about an hour and a half. If bracketing isn’t required, the time needed will also be cut in half. When you go through your pre-op consultation with your surgeon, you’ll learn exactly what will happen during your procedure and how long it should take.
After your surgery, you can expect to experience some bleeding. You may feel pain or discomfort, but most patients find that over-the-counter pain medications like Advil or Tylenol are more than enough to manage this pain, although prescription painkillers might also be prescribed. Within a couple of days following your surgery, you shouldn’t have any additional need for medication for pain relief.
Swelling and bruising may also be experienced after surgery. Swelling can be minimized by applying an icepack to the lip or cheek immediately following the procedure. While bruising isn’t as common, you shouldn’t be surprised if you do notice some.
You’ll also need to follow up with your surgeon from 7–10 days after your surgery. This appointment will be used to evaluate the healing process, and you’ll need to follow up with your orthodontist so that the eruption process can be activated. As always, if you have additional questions or concerns about the treatment or your recovery, feel free to call our office.