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Impacted tooth

  • Alternative Names

    Tooth - unemerged; Unemerged tooth; Dental impaction; Unerupted tooth


    Treatment

    No treatment may be needed if the impacted tooth is not causing any problems.

    Over-the-counter pain relievers may help if the impacted tooth causes discomfort. Warm salt water (one-half teaspoon of salt in one cup of water) or over-the-counter mouthwashes may be soothing to the gums.

    Removal of the tooth (extraction) is the usual treatment for an impacted tooth. This is usually done in the dentist's office, but difficult cases may require an oral surgeon. Antibiotics may be prescribed before the extraction if the tooth is infected.


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    Expectations (prognosis)

    Impacted teeth may cause no problems for some people and may never require treatment. Treatment is usually successful when it does cause symptoms.

    It is often preferable to have wisdom teeth removed before age 30 due to the flexibility of bone, which will allow an easier removal and better healing. As a person ages, the bone becomes more rigid and complications can develop.


    Complications

    Complications of an impacted tooth include:

    • Abscess of the tooth or gums
    • Chronic discomfort in the mouth
    • Infection
    • Malocclusion of the teeth
    • Plaque trapped between teeth and gums

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your dentist if there is an unemerged tooth (or partially emerged tooth) and pain in the gums or other symptoms have developed.