In the US, an estimated five million people undergo a tooth extraction each year. As a result, dentists remove a total of 10 million teeth from these patients.

Impacted teeth, in turn, are among the most commonly extracted teeth. This is especially true for the third molars, also known as wisdom teeth.

Exactly what is an impacted tooth, though, and why would you need to have it removed? Do all impacted teeth even need extraction?

This guide will answer all those questions, so be sure to keep reading!

What Is an Impacted Tooth?

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An impacted tooth is a tooth that has not erupted or come in as expected. You may have an impaction if one of your teeth remains stuck in either the bone or the gum tissue.

In some cases, impacted teeth can’t erupt because there’s not enough room for them outside of the gums. Some may also be growing from the wrong position or coming in the wrong direction.

Do All Impacted Teeth Types Require Removal?

No, many cases of impacted teeth are harmless and painless.

However, there are instances wherein a stuck tooth may push on the adjacent teeth. Over time, all that pressure can cause the adjacent teeth to move the teeth next to them, too. In this case, the stuck teeth can cause a malocclusion, also known as a misaligned bite.

A misaligned bite, in turn, can result in improper teeth position, such as crookedness. Such problems can then increase your risk of developing dental cavities. One reason is that crooked teeth are harder to floss and brush, so more debris and bacteria can adhere to them.

A partially impacted tooth may also have a higher risk of decay, as it can trap food and plaque. As a result, the gums supporting the affected tooth can become inflamed and tender, too. Over time, this can lead to gum disease, which already affects an estimated 64.7 million people in the US.

Some impacted teeth, especially impacted wisdom teeth, can also cause severe pain. This can happen as the teeth try to break out and grow in or if a cyst forms at the follicles of the impacted teeth. In such cases, your dentist may recommend wisdom teeth removal.

Does Removing an Impacted Tooth Hurt?

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The process itself of removing impacted teeth usually doesn’t hurt. That’s because your dentist will use anesthetics or sedatives as part of the process. You can also check out this guide to find out more about these treatments for painless oral surgery.

However, once the anesthesia wears off, you may start to feel some pain, a bit of bleeding, and slight swelling. Your oral surgeon may prescribe you medications to control these symptoms. Your doctor will also give you instructions on managing post-surgery discomfort.

Impacted tooth removal may be a type of surgery, but it’s an outpatient procedure. This means you can go home right after having your impacted tooth removed. Be patient, though, as it may take your mouth up to six weeks to completely recover.

Don’t Let the Impact of Impacted Teeth Affect You for Life

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While the term “impacted teeth” may sound scary, these stuck teeth aren’t always harmful. However, if your impacted teeth hurt or they have the potential of causing a bad bite, it may be best just to get them out. This way, you can stop the stuck teeth from causing more pain and damage to the rest of your teeth.

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