Causes for Concern with Impacted Teeth

causes for concern with impacted teeth

Impacted teeth are those that cannot erupt properly into their place in the mouth. They are typically stuck in the process of eruption. In children, these teeth can be anywhere, but they typically show up in adults’ third molar position, known as wisdom teeth. Also commonly impacted is the maxillary cuspid, or upper eyetooth, closer to the front of your bite.

We have all heard about wisdom teeth; we all know most of us need to have them removed. But why? What is the reason we cannot live forever with impacted teeth in our mouths? Why can they not erupt properly? Especially when it comes to wisdom teeth that hide in the back of the mouth, what is the risk of keeping them? We have all the answers:

What can impacted teeth do to your bite?

Imagine inviting another person to a table with the optimal amount of seats around it. The rest of the group has to shuffle, some staggering back and forth, to make room for the extra chair. The same is true of your teeth. If an extra tooth is trying to erupt without enough space, it can cause crowding of your other teeth, which can appear to be overlapping or protruding. This crowding can undo years of orthodontic work if you do not treat the condition as soon as you notice the problem.

How do impacted teeth affect your jaw and oral health?

Pain, pressure and the risk of infection can all have an effect not only on the impacted tooth itself but on your overall oral health as well. Your gums are at risk of redness, tenderness, swelling and bleeding. You may even contract oral infections just by leaving an impacted tooth untreated, which may cause serious complications for your overall health.

How can you detect an impacted tooth?

While you may be lucky and have your dentist or oral hygienist catch the impacted tooth during your semi-annual appointment, it is important to notice these clear signs that something is off with your oral health. The following are common symptoms of tooth impaction:

  • Gums that are swollen, tender or bleeding
  • Swelling or pain around your jaw
  • Halitosis (bad breath) or a consistent bad taste in your mouth
  • Issues with jaw mobility or TMJ complications

Can impacted teeth be dangerous?

Contrary to popular belief, a dental emergency is not only an extreme like a knocked out tooth or broken jaw. A dental emergency can be an infection that needs immediate attention but may not be immediately apparent.

Impacted teeth can cause infections like perisoronitis if the tooth partially erupts and then becomes inflamed (usually by food). This condition can cause infection that affects your health beyond your teeth.

Crowding caused by an erupted impacted tooth not only puts you at risk for further orthodontic work. Overcrowding can eventually lead to tooth decay and affect your bite, causing you to struggle with chewing and speaking. Because your teeth can shift so quickly, it is important to treat your impacted teeth immediately.

How can we help?

At the Southern California Center for Surgical Arts, we are lucky to have Dr. Elias, Los Angeles’ leading oral maxillofacial surgeon, who is known for the excellent care he takes of his patients. While most people hate seeing a dentist, Dr. Elias makes it easy to care for your oral health, as he is gentle, informative and precise in his treatments. If you are suffering from an impacted tooth, please feel free to call us today to schedule a consultation. Our staff would be happy to answer any of your questions.

The Southern California Center for Surgical Arts: (818) 696-4425.

Snap, Crackle, Pop: Sounds Your Jaw Should NOT Make

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (commonly known as TMD, TMJ or TMJD) is a broad term describing a number of symptoms that could be affecting the health of your temporomandibular joint. This joint acts like a hinge to connect your jaw to your temporal bones (just in front of each ear). Speaking, eating, yawning, open-mouthed laughing and basically any other function that requires opening your mouth is controlled by the TM joint, so you can imagine any difficulty with this particular part of the body could complicate your daily life.

I’m sure you have experienced at least one friend in your lifetime approaching you and asking if you can hear the strange noises coming from a part of their body. Some crack their knuckles, broken bones may leave residual damage in the form of snapping noises and more people than you may think they hear popping when opening and closing their mouth. These people making you listen as they mimic a gnawing motion may be suffering from TMD.

Why me?

There are many causes for TMD, some may be due to genetics, but many are based on habits you may have developed over time. Often enough, there is no explanation for how someone may have developed TMD. The most common causes of these disorders include the following:

  • Arthritis in the TM joint, typically arising based on family history with arthritis
  • Grinding your teeth or clenching your mouth, putting pressure on your jaw and causing the joint to become weak
  • Jaw injury or whiplash
  • Stress-induced jaw clenching or tightening of the facial muscles
  • Shifting of the soft cushion between the ball and socket of the TM joint

How do I know if I have TMD?

Symptoms of TMD may range, but the reason this particular joint disorder is so important to treat is because these symptoms may be chronic and may dramatically affect your quality of life.

If you experience any pain, discomfort or clicking, popping or grating noises when you open and/or close your mouth, you may be suffering from TMD. The following are other common symptoms of the disorder:

  • Pain or struggle when opening your mouth wide
  • Pain in your face, neck, shoulders, jaw, or cheeks when you open your mouth wide
  • Aching or tired feeling in your face
  • Difficulty or discomfort biting or chewing foods; this may not be painful all of the time, but you might feel as though your upper and lower teeth are not properly aligned
  • Swelling in your cheeks
  • Aching in your teeth, ears or head/neck
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Any combination of the above symptoms

Treatment Options

In most cases, TMD is treated without surgery. Your diagnosis and the severity of your disorder, including whether it is coupled with further jaw damage, will determine your treatment options. Therapy via bite guards, physical therapy or counseling are common in treating TMD and training your jaw against the habits it has formed.

If further medical attention is required, your doctor may suggest arthrocentesis (needle therapy to release fluids and remove inflammation), injections to relax the jaw muscles or surgery. Surgery for TMD may call for joint replacement, and therefore is not recommended in every case. If you are suffering from pain or discomfort in your jaw, it may be TMD, but it may be a sign of jaw misalignment or a need for wisdom tooth removal. Dr. Elias at the Southern California Center for Surgical Arts can help you by diagnosing your condition and working with you to come up with a viable treatment plan. Plus, he is Los Angeles’ favorite oral & maxillofacial surgeon! Call our offices today if you have any questions, or to book your consultation: (818) 696-4425.

Jaw-Dropping Corrective Surgery

Jaw misalignment can be traumatic both physically and psychologically for children and adults alike. In most cases of under bites, over bites and other misalignment, children are born with these conditions and have to suffer being bullied and having improper jaw function for years. Corrective jaw surgery (Orthognathic surgery) is designed to restructure the shape of the jaw and bring it back into alignment, allowing for not only an aesthetic improvement, but also functional.

The Pain is Real!

Patients with jaw misalignment experience side affects that can be very painful and harmful for their oral health. Jaw bones may be rubbing against each other, clenching and grinding during sleep is very common, speech is often compromised and bullying for looking different than others is rampant. By choosing corrective jaw surgery, you not only set yourself up for success with correct jaw function and pain relief, most patients leave with a newfound confidence in the way they look and feel.

Am I a Candidate?

The following symptoms may make you a good candidate for corrective jaw surgery:

  • Difficulty breathing through the mouth
  • Shifted jaw to the left or right
  • Cleft palate
  • Difficulty chewing, biting or swallowing
  • Strained speech
  • Protruding jaw
  • Chronic jaw pain or locking (TMJ)
  • Open bite, overbite or under bite
  • Facial or jaw asymmetry

While many patients experience jaw misalignment as a result of a birth defect, trauma may also cause the above symptoms and require surgery. Physical violence, athletic injuries to the face and, often, accidental falls may cause the jaw to break or fall out of its proper alignment. It is important, especially in these cases, to seek treatment immediately, before your oral health is seriously compromised.

What happens before the surgery?

Orthodontic treatment will be initiated by your orthodontist to align your teeth within your upper and lower jaw, your bite will looks slightly worse initially in anticipation of the final correction with jaw surgery, orthodontic treatment will continue after the jaw surgery to perfect the alignment of the teeth with the new jaws position, in some instances orthodontic treatment can be done after jaw surgery. Orthodontic treatment can be done with either braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign.

Dr. Elias will plan your surgery in collaboration with your orthodontist, Dr. Elias uses virtual surgical planning and 3D printed models of your jaws and facial skeleton to plan your surgery and design the movements to achieve the best aesthetic and functional outcome.

What Happens During Surgery?

Jaw surgery is really cool, because the entire procedure is done within the mouth. This means no scarring externally! No need to worry about bullying from jaw misalignment being transferred to a lifelong scar. Once recovery is over, patients finally experience normality when it comes to oral health, function and appearance.

Corrective jaw surgery typically requires a 1-2 day stay in the hospital and a strenuous recovery following, because eating will be a challenge for several weeks. During surgery, incisions are made in the actual jawbones to displace them from their current misalignment. They will be realigned and secured with screws for healing. Some patients require bone grafting to fill in gaps in the new alignment.

Recovery: Your Final Push

Following your surgery, you will be unable to chew solid food and speech will be very strained and minimal. Swelling will inhibit much of your mouth’s function, but it is important to continue to nourish your body with either broth-based soups or smoothies containing protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

The healing process typically takes 3-6 weeks at home, depending on your overall health, the care you take of yourself and your body’s reaction to surgery. It is important to follow all of the after-care instructions given by your surgeon to ensure a quick and easy recovery.

Dr. Elias of the Southern California Center for Surgical Arts has successfully treated many happy patients for jaw misalignment. If you are suffering jaw misalignment and are interested in learning about what corrective jaw surgery can do for you, call us at (818) 696-4425. You will be able to schedule a diagnostic consultation with a full evaluation by Dr. Elias, who will determine the best course of action for your surgery.