What are Impacted Teeth? Types | Causes | Treatment

What are Impacted Teeth?

Impacted teeth are common and are associated with immense pain. The 3rd molars are the prevalent impacted tooth and make up 98% of all impacted teeth with a prevalence range from 18.97% to 30.80%. Impacted teeth can be a source of immense pain and discomfort. The next section will discuss impacted teeth and impacted teeth removal. 

What are Impacted Teeth?

Impacted teeth are teeth that fail to erupt through the gums. They can be partially or fully impacted. Impacted teeth can be painful but are often painless as well. When it causes pain, patients visit the dentist, seek advice, and get the recommended treatment. 

However, sometimes it is an incidental finding. The patient might go to the dentist for another tooth, and the dentist might find an impacted tooth on the radiograph. 

Types of Impacted Teeth

Patients don’t need to have only impacted wisdom teeth. Canines, the teeth which occupy the third position in every arch, can also be impacted. 

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted teeth are commonly known as wisdom teeth. These teeth generally grow after the age of 17. When these teeth start erupting, the jaw has often stopped growing. Naturally, these teeth have no space in the jaw, and they push through and make their own space. As a result, they lose their ideal position and configuration and appear in the wrong position.

That wrong position results in impactions. These wisdom teeth do not play a part in performing the regular oral functions of speech, chewing and aesthetics. Therefore, impacted wisdom teeth removal is required. 

The impacted wisdom teeth removal cost is $200-$800 if removed via simple extraction. When a wisdom tooth is removed via surgical extraction, the cost is between $500 and $2000. 

Impacted Canines

The second most common teeth to be impacted are the upper canines. Canines are also referred to as the cuspid or eye teeth. Their absence within the mouth often concerns the patients seeking dental advice. The absence of a canine tooth affects the aesthetics of the patient. 

Like wisdom teeth, they are either fully impacted, absent from the mouth, or partially erupted. When a canine is impacted, it can be present ahead or behind the level of other teeth, on the left or right or within the jaw (in this case, they are not visible).

Symptoms of Impacted Teeth

Different symptoms may indicate the teeth that are impacted. Initially, some cases will be completely symptomless and can remain undetected until they are observed or seen in a radiograph and extracted. Nevertheless, when symptoms do arise, they frequently follow a systematic pattern. 

Initially, you could experience red, swollen or bleeding gum tissue surrounding the impacted tooth. This can result in bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth. You might find it difficult to open your mouth as this disease develops. The mouth opening reduces more and more over time. 

Lastly, pain may occur, especially when opening the mouth, chewing, and biting. These symptoms vary over weeks or months, and the need for professional evaluation and treatment cannot be overemphasized.

Causes of Impacted Teeth

Impacted teeth generally arise when there is a lack of space in the mouth to accommodate all teeth. It is essential to note that we have wisdom teeth in our mouths due to ancestral reasons. Our primal ancestors had meat as their staple food, along with nuts, roots, berries, and leaves which they ate raw. Chewing such hard, lumpy, and pointed foods involves strong teeth. To chew rough and raw food for survival our ancestors needed these three sets of molars, including wisdom teeth.

Therefore, when there is insufficient space, teeth may erupt abnormally,  resulting in an impaction. This state requires attention to keep complications at bay. 

How are Impacted Teeth Treated?

The treatment of impacted teeth revolves around tooth extraction and orthodontic treatment. Regarding extraction of an asymptomatic impacted tooth, the dentists have two opinions. Some dentists believe we should wait and see if it causes a problem. If it does, it should be removed; if not, it should remain as it is.

On the contrary, modern dentistry suggests that impacted wisdom teeth should be removed. This is because, in the long run, these impactions affect the surrounding healthy tooth structures and bone. Therefore, to make the right decision, you must be examined by a dentist. 

Tooth Extraction

The impacted tooth can be extracted via a simple or surgical extraction. This is preferred when the impacted tooth is causing pain and immense discomfort. Moreover, extractions are also done when the tooth is healthy, but they threaten the adjacent tooth’s health and integrity. 

The time taken for the entire procedure depends upon multiple factors, including position and size of teeth, mouth opening and infection. The healing is usually completed in 7 to 10 days. The swelling generally accompanies for the first 3 to 4 days in case of surgical extraction. If the swelling begins after four days, you must visit the dentist again.

Orthodontic Treatment

If a patient has a canine impaction, the dentist might opt for an eruption aid to smooth the tooth’s eruption. The eruption aids include braces and brackets. The dentist might also extract baby or adult teeth that may be blocking the canines. This approach is most common in younger people.

Complications of Impacted Teeth

Postoperative complications rate of impacted mandibular third molar extraction varies between 2.6% and 30.9%, including bleeding, swelling (oedema), persistent pain, trismus, and nerve injury. Several studies have examined the patient-related factors(such as age and sex), the ideal involved tooth level, different surgical techniques, and surgeon experience as the reasons behind postoperative avoidance. Hence, it is essential to conduct a preoperative assessment before teeth extraction.


To sum it up, impacted teeth can be symptomatic or asymptomatic.  Depending upon the type and location of the impaction, their fate is decided. They can cause extreme discomfort and pain and affect the day-to-day routine of the patients. 

The best dentists in Montclair, NJ, at Dr. Arthur Yeh and Associates, offer extensive services to cater to your impacted teeth. We ensure a comfortable and pain-free experience. Book your appointment with the dentists in Montclair, NJ, today!