A dental impaction refers to a tooth that is unable to erupt into its normal position due to a blockage by an adjacent tooth. An impacted tooth may be removed by extraction to create space for other teeth and lessen further tooth damage.

What is it?

Impaction is when teeth (usually wisdom teeth) grow in misaligned and need to be removed to allow for more space for other teeth and to prevent tooth damage.  Impacted teeth can cause significant pain and, therefore, extracting the tooth can be a way to provide relief.

What should I do to prepare?

Complete necessary x-rays, discuss antibiotic options with the dentist and do not smoke the day of the extraction.  Discuss if you need to fast before extraction to prevent nausea from anesthesia.

What happens during the process?

A local anesthetic is applied to numb the area where the tooth will be extracted. Based on the number of teeth pulled or if the tooth is impacted, a stronger anesthetic may be used. The tooth is then pulled out, usually in pieces, since it is embedded in the jawbone and underneath the gums. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or Valium are administered to sedate patients during the process to ease the anxiety involved in the process.

What are the risks and potential complications?

Dry socket, a frequently occurring complication with impaction is when a blood clot either fails to form or the blood clot has been dislodged. This condition delays healing, so the dentist places medication in the socket to combat this. Paresthesia is a rare complication but occurs when the nerves are bruised or damaged during tooth extraction. This complication causes facial numbness that can last for a few days to months.


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