An impacted tooth is one that is stuck in the bone and has not come in (or erupted) by a certain age—or one that is erupting in the wrong direction or position. Often, the tooth cannot erupt because it doesn’t have room. It may be blocked by another tooth (sometimes a baby tooth), or, the patient’s jaw may be too narrow. Has your child been diagnosed with an impacted tooth? Here’s an overview of impacted tooth treatment options.
Impacted Tooth Treatment Methods
Treatments range from simple to complicated. In some cases, simply extracting a baby tooth may clear enough space for the permanent tooth to erupt in the correct position. In other cases, your child’s jaw may need to be expanded to create more space for the permanent teeth to come in properly. More complex cases may require a combination of oral surgery and orthodontic treatment, in which your orthodontist and periodontist or oral surgeon work together to slowly guide the impacted tooth into its normal alignment.
Generally, the earlier an impacted tooth is identified, the easier it is to treat. Dr. Dougherty prevents surgical intervention monthly just by early detection!
Open Ligation Vs. Chain Ligation
When a tooth is stuck in the bone and will not erupt on its own—even when proper space is available—surgical intervention is needed. This happens most commonly with the wisdom teeth and upper canines. Two different techniques are available, depending on whether the impacted tooth is positioned more towards the tongue side or the cheek side.
The first option is called open ligation or open eruption. This is where the periodontist or oral surgeon will remove the gums and bone that cover the tooth, creating a little window. The open option is only available if the tooth is stuck in the bone on the tongue side. The second option is called chain ligation. This technique involves the placement of an orthodontic bracket onto the tooth after it is accessed by the periodontist or oral surgeon. The bracket will be connected to a small chain using gentle force to guide the tooth into position.
Remember: The AAO recommends that you take your child to see an orthodontist for a checkup and x-rays by age 7. This helps to ensure that any orthodontic problems (e.g., impacted teeth) are caught early.