A tooth which does not erupt completely in the dental arch, but it remains partially covered by the gums, or does not erupt at all remaining impacted in the jaw bones, is called semi-impacted or impacted tooth respectively. This problem is encountered more often with the third molars or wisdom teeth, which they are also the last teeth developing and erupting in the dental arch. Moreover other teeth, such as the canines and the premolars as well, could remain impacted.
The usual symptoms presenting whenever there are impacted teeth, are pain, swelling, as well as signs of infection of the surrounding tissues. An impacted tooth can potentially cause permanent damage to adjacent teeth, gums, as well as the underlying osseous structures.
Furthermore impacted teeth are associated with the development of cysts and tumors, which could destroy large portions of the jaw bones. Many times the management of impacted teeth is postponed until the presence of symptoms, but it is now common practice the timely and primary removal of impacted teeth, particularly when the radiographic examination reveals development of potential problems after their stay.
The oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the one who also ensures the remaining in the mouth of a tooth presenting a periapical lesion (granuloma or cyst), where the conventional endodontic treatment (root canal therapy), cannot provide its definitive management. Apicectomy along with the enucleation (removal) of the periapical lesion, constitute the applied surgical treatment of choice. Also the surgical management of cysts and odontogenic tumors of the jaws, constitutes a major part of dentoalveolar surgery which the oral and maxillofacial surgeon performs in everyday practice, helping to relieve and cure patients referred to him mainly by the dental surgeon.