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What Does Impaction Mean?

Congratulations! You’ve made it through the first 20 years of your life and have finally got all 32 of your teeth in! They’re beautiful and functional and sure to see you through a lifetime, and you couldn’t be prouder of your good oral hygiene. So why are you feeling like you have another set of teeth coming in? 32 is the most you get, right? In 50% of Americans that’s true, in the rest there’s a 3rd set of molars that starts to arrive in their early 20’s, and for many of them its going to mean undergoing surgery to get them removed due to a condition called impaction.

What Is Impaction?

Impaction is a condition where the arrival of additional teeth has led to pressure caused by crowding on the other teeth. Modern human mouths aren’t meant to hold this additional set of molars, and that can lead to all sorts of problems from impaction. Teeth can become pushed out of position, the pressure on them can lead to them becoming cracked or broken, and damage to the jaw and soft-tissues of the mouth are also possible. Regular visits to your dentist make it possible for them to see this condition coming and take steps before you begin to experience the painful reality of impaction.

What Warning Signs Let Me Know Impaction Is Happening?

The symptoms usually start gradually, with a dull ache being felt in the rear areas of the jaw. As these new teeth start to come in the pain will become greater, and you may notice swelling and tenderness around the site where the tooth is arriving. You may feel like there’s pressure in your jaw or on your teeth, and they may ache in a persistent and strange way. If you experience any of these conditions its time to get to your dentist immediately. Prompt attention can help alleviate the worst of the condition and allow removal before any damage is done.

What Can Happen With Untreated Impactions?

An untreated impaction is an invitation for serious oral health issues. The pressure from an impaction can lead to permanent damage to your teeth, misalignment of your teeth or jaw, and even issues with your temporomandibular joint. In most cases extraction of the tooth is the only viable path of treatment, and will prevent the lions share of major issues from happening when done in a timely manner.

The Varieties Of Tooth Impaction

Tooth impactions come in a variety of types, with each of the six terms used describing different directions of impaction, as well as the general nature of the impaction. Impactions can affect the gums or other soft tissues of the mouth in soft tissue impactions, or can be embedded in bone, even fully encased, in bony impactions. Vertical, horizontal, distal, and medial impactions describe impactions that are coming in naturally (vertical), angled along the jawline (horizontal), angled towards the back of the mouth (distal) and angled towards the front (medial). All of these conditions need the attention of your dentist to correct.

Dr. Bob Dokhanchi at the Fox Valley Dental Center in Aurora IL has been helping patients like you face the realities of impactions as part of his practice, and would be happy to help preserve your oral health in an appointment at their clinic. Call today.

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