Impacted Teeth

Dr. Kelly Jobe | Pediatric Dentist | St. Louis, MO

Impacted Teeth

If your child has an impacted front tooth or baby tooth, a tooth growing high up in the gum, or other tooth eruption problems, have no fear! These are common problems, and can be fixed.

An impacted tooth is a permanent tooth that can’t erupt (or grow) where it is supposed to. This is usually caused by surrounding teeth that block the emerging permanent tooth, or by a stubborn baby tooth that won’t fall out. Sometimes the erupting permanent tooth doesn’t grow in at all, or it starts growing to the side of surrounding teeth.

The most common teeth that get impacted are wisdom teeth and canines. It’s common for wisdom teeth not to have enough room in the jawline to grow in properly. That’s why they often need to be removed in late adolescence.

However, any type of tooth can get impacted by all kinds of reasons – genetics, the child’s mouth may be small, or the tooth had a mind of its own and felt like growing in a different direction than we would hope.

When permanent (adult) teeth don’t erupt as expected, that can create even more problems down the road (like gum disease, cysts or even bone loss). The earlier an impacted tooth is caught, the easier it is to treat! So the fact that you are aware of the problem and looking for answers, is a great step in the right direction.

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Is my child’s tooth impacted?

The signs of an impacted tooth that needs exposed are fairly easy to see, you just have to know what to look for:

  • Permanent teeth that never appear
  • Baby teeth that don’t budge
  • Surrounding teeth that shift
  • A rogue tooth that erupts high in the gum line

When an emerging permanent tooth has to fight with its older siblings for its rightful place in the jawline, that can cause a lot of discomfort. This is because impacted teeth can damage the root system of surrounding teeth, causing roots to break down and potentially creating cysts. 

So if your child complains of pain while chewing, or you notice any speech problems, that could be a sign of an impacted tooth as well. Our pediatric dental team will find out for sure.

Even if you don’t see any obvious sign of an impacted tooth, it’s always best to visit a pediatric dentist regularly. Pediatric dentists have the knowledge and tools needed to catch subtle problems that might cause bigger issues down the road.

How do you fix an impacted tooth?

The two main treatments for fixing an impacted tooth are extractions and braces, or a combination of both.

We commonly perform extractions when a baby tooth is the only thing standing in the way of freedom for the emerging permanent tooth. In some cases, braces might be necessary to get the surrounding overcrowded teeth out of the way or get the impacted tooth fully erupted. If multiple teeth are involved, a combination of extractions and braces might be necessary. In extreme cases, surgery might be needed to widen the jaw. 

Questions for Dr. Jobe or the Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry team?

Dr. Kelly Jobe and the team at Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry are committed to providing the best pediatric dental care in the greater St. Louis, MO area! Please contact us with any questions regarding your kid’s dental health, we are here to help!

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