Have an Erupted Tooth? Symptoms, Treatments & Relief

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Table of Contents

  1. Normal Dental Eruption
  2. Super-Erupted Teeth
  3. Super-Erupted Tooth Treatment
  4. Partially Erupted Teeth
  5. Partially Erupted Tooth Treatment
  6. Prevention

Dentists use the word eruption to describe a tooth pushing through the gums. It sounds like a sudden, traumatic process. In reality, a tooth eruption can move very slowly and cause very little (or no) pain at all.

An erupted tooth can be a natural, normal part of aging. However, sometimes an erupted tooth is a sign of an underlying problem.

The following types of tooth eruption exist:

  • Normal: The average human has several normal episodes of erupted teeth. Your baby teeth come in, your adult teeth come in, and your wisdom teeth come in. All of these episodes involve a tooth pushing through the gums and taking up a position to help you chew, talk, or smile.

  • Super eruption: Teeth that are super erupted have moved up and out of their normal position. The problem can occur due to a dental problem (like grinding) or missing teeth.

  • Partial eruption: Partial eruption refers to teeth that haven’t fully moved to their proper position in the jaw. Several reasons exist, including mechanical obstacles (like other teeth) or a genetic disorder that blocks the process.

Here’s what you need to know about an erupted tooth, including how your dental team might help.

Normal dental eruption: What does it feel like?

Think back to your childhood and the moment your baby teeth began to fall out. This normal dental eruption process was likely uncomfortable and triggered red gums and mild pain. When your baby teeth left your mouth and the adult versions came in, the discomfort faded.

If your erupted tooth stems from a normal and natural process like this, you may not need treatment. Your dental team can monitor the progress of your teeth and ensure that your smile is as healthy as possible.

Super-erupted teeth: What does it feel like?

Super erupted teeth are not in the proper place due to an underlying problem. Typically, they’re taller than they should be.

You may have a super-erupted tooth if you have the following:

  • A tooth that juts up higher than its neighbors

  • A tooth that seems wobbly

  • A tooth that is very sensitive

  • Pain in the area

  • Headaches and jaw pain

In addition to the signs above, other symptoms of a super-erupted tooth may include the following:

  • Continuous decay problems and cavities

  • Recurring infection and inflammation of the gums

  • Feeling that teeth are not biting naturally or correctly

  • Feeling of instability in the mouth

  • Dark surface that is visible on gums

If you experience these symptoms, you need to call a dentist. The situation won’t get better on its own. In fact, the super-eruption will continue, exposing more of the root and causing more pain.

Treatment for a super-erupted tooth

The treatment for a super-erupted tooth will vary depending on the situation but may include the following potential options:

Some people develop super-erupted teeth due to dental crowding. Pressure from adjacent teeth can cause one to rise. Others develop super-erupted teeth due to missing teeth. When the bite is uneven, teeth shift accordingly. Orthodontic treatment options like braces could ease these issues and encourage the tall tooth to move back down.

An erupted tooth could benefit from reshaping procedures, including filing down the area and fitting it with a crown. This step encourages evenness to the bite and could keep other teeth from shifting accordingly. Crowns are required, as filing a tooth typically means removing the enamel that prevents cavities. Crowns can keep the tooth safe and sound.

If a super-erupted tooth is caused by a missing counterpart, an implant could be wise. Implants are metal rods drilled into the jaw and capped with a tooth-looking material. They look and feel like regular teeth, and they could keep the super-erupted tooth from moving even more.

Partially erupted teeth: What does it feel like?

Pericoronitis is the medical term describing partially erupted teeth. Sometimes, permanent teeth do not come in or only partially come in, especially if they do not have enough room between teeth or in the jaws to erupt to their proper place.

Partial eruptions are hard to clean and increase your risk of tooth or gum infections. Partially erupted teeth are also called impacted teeth.

Symptoms of partially erupted teeth include the following:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)

  • Pain in jaw or gums

  • Headaches

  • Gum problems around the affected tooth, such as puffiness, redness, and bleeding

  • Bad taste in the mouth, especially when biting with affected tooth

  • Gap in gums

  • Recurring decay and cavities

  • Bite problems (teeth misalignment, also called malocclusion)

Treating partially erupted teeth

Impacted teeth are common and in many instances go unnoticed until a visit to the dentist. Your dentist may see that you have a tooth that is shorter than the other teeth, and they can use x-rays to see that it is not completely in place. Several treatment options exist, including the following:

In cases of children and adolescents, dentists may apply a sealant to the tooth affected by partial eruption in order to prevent decay and cavities. The dental team may schedule regular examinations and imaging appointments to ensure the tooth can move into the jaw properly. If not, it may require removal.

Impacted teeth—especially wisdom teeth—are often removed. This reduces the risk of infection and tooth misalignment.

Unlike other teeth, wisdom teeth tend to be entirely removed and not replaced with implants. Most people have all four wisdom teeth removed at once. This may require going under general anesthesia, so you need to arrange for help getting home after the procedure. 

Recovery can take about two weeks, as the gums completely heal. You will have a visit with your dentist soon after that, so they can examine your mouth and ensure that you have healed well. You may be prescribed a preventative course of antibiotics.

If the impacted tooth caused an infection, your dental team must treat it. If there are any signs of infection, seek immediate medical care. Signs of a wisdom tooth infection may include the following:

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Toothache

  • Tooth sensitivity

  • Pus or fluid coming from the tooth

  • Swelling of the jaw or gums

  • Swollen lymph nodes

Even if symptoms of infection come and go, untreated oral infections can lead to infections in the bloodstream. These can travel throughout the body and infect other areas, including the heart. Over the course of an adult’s life, recurrent infections can lead to a feeling of malaise, trouble concentrating, and even organ damage.

Your dentist will create a treatment plan that starts by cleaning and flushing the area around the tooth. This removes debris. If you have an abscess, it starts to clean out the bacteria. Oral antibiotics may help to ensure the infection is fully resolved.

Can you prevent an erupted tooth?

Some types of tooth eruption are healthy, natural, and very safe. It’s always smart to visit a dental professional regularly and ensure that your teeth are moving properly, but you shouldn’t try to prevent all cases of tooth eruption.

You can help to prevent unhealthy tooth eruption by paying attention to your tooth alignment. For example, if your dentist must remove a tooth, talk about crowns or implants to keep the rest of your teeth in place. And if your teeth seem crowded, ask your dentist if orthodontic treatment is right for you.

Regular visits to your dentist can help you prevent some of the most serious consequences of an erupted tooth. For example, your dentist may use x-rays to spot new teeth that you can’t feel quite yet but might cause issues when they break through the gums. Together, you can decide the right way to care for your smile at all stages.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.