Friday, December 2, 2011

What's an impacted tooth? Akron's own, Dr. Barnett Answers the Question.

In my interaction with new patients, I often (almost weekly) have to explain to a family why one of their teeth will NEVER come in without orthodontic help. This "stuck" tooth, called an impacted tooth, cannot erupt into the mouth because there is not enough room or something blocks the natural tooth eruption.
Wisdom teeth are the most commonly impacted teeth and the usual approach is to remove (extract) them! When it comes to dealing with other impactions though, pulling the tooth is always a LAST resort. Upper canine teeth (eye teeth) are the second most commonly impacted teeth and the most common impacted-tooth-problem an orthodontist has to face. To correct the impaction, it requires a gum tissue surgery and a coordinated approach between an orthodontist and other specialists.  The x-ray above and photos below show the hidded nature of an impacted tooth and the progession from the initial surgery to the tooth almost aligned in the arch.  As you can see on the x-ray, the upper right side reveals a tooth on an angle crossing behind one of the front teeth.  When looking at the photo below, you cannot see the tooth as it is covered with bone and gum tissue--unitl, it's uncovered as shown in the photos at the bottom. 

The surgical procedure, called an uncovering, is done during the orthodontic treatment to remove the gum tissue and bone blocking the impacted tooth. Then, the orthodontist can place a bracket on the impacted tooth and slowly move it to the correct position. The total time in braces is usually no longer than an average orthodontic case.