Impacted Canines

An Impacted tooth simply means that it is stuck and cannot erupt properly. While wisdom teeth are the most common to become impacted, the canine teeth (otherwise known as the maxillary cuspid or upper eyetooth) are the second most common. Because the cuspid tooth plays such a major role in your bite and alignment of the rest of your teeth, it is important to make every effort for it to erupt in a proper manner.

Early Recognition of Impacted Eyeteeth Is the Key To Successful Treatment
The maxillary cuspids are usually the last of the front teeth to erupt, and generally do so around the age of 13. The older the patient, the more likely an impacted canine will not erupt on its own, even if there is enough space available for the tooth to fit. It is recommended that all patients around the age of 7 receive X-Rays to discover any potential problems with the eruption of adult teeth. This exam is usually performed by your general dentist or hygienist and they will refer you to an orthodontist if a problem is identified. In some cases, treatment involves getting braces to open a space for the tooth to erupt. Treatment may also include a referral to an oral surgeon for extraction of baby teeth or adult teeth that are blocking the eruption of the eyeteeth. If the space eruption path is cleared by age 11-12, the chances of the tooth erupting on its own are good. If the eyetooth is allowed to develop too much (age 13-14), it is likely that the tooth will not erupt naturally, even if there is ample space. If the patient is over 40, there’s a much higher chance that the tooth has fused in position. In such cases, the tooth will not budge despite the efforts of an orthodontist or oral surgeon and the only option will be tooth extraction.

What Happens If The Eyetooth Will Not Erupt When Proper Space Is Available?
Every case will be individually evaluated and a treatment plan will usually involve a combined effort between the orthodontist and oral surgeon. It’s most common for braces to be placed on the upper teeth to create a space. If a baby eyetooth is still present, it will usually be left in place until the space for the adult tooth is ready. Once the space is ready, the orthodontist will refer the patient to an oral surgeon to have the impacted tooth exposed and then bracketed.

The oral surgeon will lift the gum on top of the impacted tooth to expose the hidden tooth underneath. If there is a baby tooth, it will be removed during the same procedure. The surgeon will then bond an orthodontic bracket to the tooth with a small gold chain attached to it. Most often, the gum will be returned to its original location and sutured back with only the chain remaining visible. Most of the time, the gum will be returned to its original location and sutured back with only the chain remaining visible as it exits a small hole in the gum.

Within two weeks after the surgery, the patient will return to the orthodontist and a rubber band will be attached to the chain to put a light pulling force on the impacted tooth. The tooth will then slowly begin moving into its proper place.

Once the tooth is moved into its final position, the gum around it will be examined to make sure it is strong and healthy enough to stabilize the tooth for a lifetime. In some cases, minor gum surgery may be necessary to bulk up the tissue to ensure its ability to remain healthy.

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