Unerupted Tooth

An unerupted or impacted tooth is a tooth that has formed but not emerged into the mouth. Teeth that fail to erupt can damage surrounding teeth gums and supporting bone and lead to the formation of tumours and cysts that can severly disrupt the jaw. Because of this risk unerupted teeth are often extracted.

Failure to erupt occurs most frequently among third molars better known as wisdom teeth. Third molars are last teeth to develop; thus by the time they are ready to erupt there is often no room for them in the jaw line and they remain beneath the gums. Cuspids the four pointy teeth surrounding your front teeth and bicuspids the teeth between your cuspids and molars are also known to become impacted.

Unerupted teeth can eventually cause the following symptoms:

Pain Swelling Infection in the surrounding tissues

X-rays can detect the presence of unerupted teeth and they can be extracted before any painful symptoms begin. While dentists can treat partial impacts under local anasthesia deeper impacts will often require a visit to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. He or she will extract the tooth while the patient is asleep under general anasthesia. Often unerupted teeth are removed during orthodontic treatment to eliminate the risk of the tooth finally erupting and disrupting the alignment of the newly straightened teeth.

In some situations tooth extractions may need to be postponed temporarily. These situations include:

If an infection has progressed from the tooth into the bone. Infections may decrease the potency of anesthesia and are treated with antibiotics before the tooth is extracted. If a patient has been using drugs such as aspirin within three days of the procedures as these drugs thin the blood Patients who have had heart valve replacement open-heart surgery prosthetic joint replacement or placement of a medical shunt within the previous six months

Before an extraction the dentist will take the patient's medical and dental history noting allergies and prescription medications previous extractions and reactions to anesthetics. The tooth is also x-rayed to determine its full shape and the position of the impact. An important aspect of tooth extraction is the aftercare and encouraging a clot to form at the extraction site. The patient should put pressure on the area by biting gently on a roll for several hours after surgery. Once the clot is formed it should not be disturbed. The patient should not rinse spit drink with a straw or smoke for at least 24 hours after the extraction and preferably longer. For the first two days after the procedure the patient should drink liquids without using a straw and eat soft foods. Any chewing must be done on the side away from the extraction site. The mouth may be gently cleaned with a toothbrush but the extraction area should not be scrubbed.

Potential complications of tooth extraction include:

Postoperative infection Temporary numbness from nerve irritation Jaw fracture and jaw joint pain. Dry socket. A condition where a blood clot does not properly form in the empty tooth socket allowing the bone beneath the socket to be painfully exposed to air and food causing the extraction site to heal more slowly.
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