If there is not enough room in your mouth to fit all 32of your adult teeth, some teeth maybe blocked from breaking through the gums, or not erupt properly. The affected tooth is known as an impacted tooth. Wisdom teeth are the most commonly affected by tooth impaction, as they are the last to erupt.

What Causes Tooth Impaction?

The major cause of tooth impaction is lack of adequate space in your mouth for a tooth to erupt. Genetics or orthodontic treatment can sometimes be the cause of this condition. Other teeth can block an impacted tooth, causing it to tilt, twist, or reposition itself as it tries to break through the gums. This condition usually causes no visible symptoms and is only detected during a dental X-ray.

Types of Tooth Impaction

Teeth can be impacted several ways:

  • Mesial impaction – The affected teeth become tilted toward the front of your mouth.
  • Distal impaction – The affected teeth become tilted toward the back of your mouth
  • Vertical impaction – The impacted tooth remains upright but doesn’t have space to erupt
  • Horizontal impaction – The impacted tooth lies on its side
  • Soft tissue impaction – The impacted tooth manages to erupt through the gums
  • Bony impaction – The impacted tooth is completely or partially hidden in the jawbone.

Symptoms of Tooth Impaction

Tooth impaction may go unnoticed due to the absence of symptoms. In some cases, however, the condition may manifest itself in the following ways:

  • Unpleasant breath
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • A nasty taste in the mouth
  • Discomfort when chewing, biting, or opening your mouth

You may experience tooth impaction symptoms for weeks or even months. If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule a visit to your dentist for proper diagnosis as soon as possible. The easiest way to identify the issue is through X-rays.

If left untreated, impaction can lead to serious long-term oral problems, which can be costly to treat. Treatment of impacted teeth involves removal, to avert potential issues with the adjacent teeth, the jawbone, and the gums.