Impacted teeth are more common than many people realize. Impacted teeth are sometimes misunderstood to be teeth that are merely “crowded”. The term “impacted” simply sounds like it’s describing teeth which are crowded against each other. However, impacted teeth are actually teeth that are stuck in the bone, and without professional treatment, these teeth will not naturally grown into the mouth.
While each case is unique, the most common cause of tooth impaction is that there is simply not a large enough open space for the tooth to make its way into a natural position through the gumline. It’s also common to observe teeth developing at a sharp angle that doesn’t guide the tooth towards a natural vacancy in the patient’s mouth. Both of these situations lead to the teeth residing in the bone rather than erupting into the mouth. The canine tooth is most commonly affected, but impaction can occur for any tooth.
In many cases, orthodontic treatment can create the space necessary for teeth to erupt naturally. Teeth naturally want to erupt, and creating appropriate space helps initiate this process in impacted teeth. For some stubborn teeth which don’t respond to the creation of space alone, an orthodontist can use a device called a “gold chain” which attaches to the tooth, and can be used to control the movement of the tooth and guide it into position.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children to see an orthodontist for an evaluation by age 7. In some situations some impactions can be avoided if the impaction is detected early. If an impaction discovered by treatment is not yet advisable, we will monitor the development until treatment is indicated. This ensures a plan is in place for the easiest path towards an optimal, beautiful smile.