Impacted canines are very similar to wisdom teeth, only slightly less common. An impacted tooth is unable to erupt, typically due to lack of space in the jaw or odd placement of the tooth. The severity of an impacted canine is just as urgent as wisdom teeth, if not more, as these are your sharpest teeth, with deepest roots, which play a vital role in your “bite” and the function of your mouth.
Your canine teeth, or maxillary cuspid teeth, are more prone to impaction because they are typically the last of the front teeth to erupt into their final position. This usually happens around age 13. Rather than extracting this impacted tooth, every effort is made to induce eruption; you would not want to lose your biting teeth, would you?
Early Recognition of Impacted Canines is the Major Key to Successful Treatment
Treating an impacted canine immediately is essential in a smooth induced eruption. The older the patient, the less likely an impacted tooth will erupt on its own, even with adequate space. Using a panorex screening x-ray and a thorough dental examination, these impactions are easily diagnosed as early as age 7. If your children are regularly seeing their dentist or oral hygienist, you will know immediately when he or she has an impacted canine.
There is a small window of treatment for these teeth. A child between the ages of 11-12 still has a chance for the tooth to erupt naturally if space is made in the bite. Between 13-14, the chance of natural eruption decreases dramatically, and it is almost certain that they will have to have the tooth treated. If you are over 40 and have an impacted canine, it is unlikely that the tooth will budge, even under the efforts of an orthodontist or oral maxillofacial surgeon. In those cases, extraction and prosthesis are the only options.
If the Tooth Will Not Erupt When Proper Space is Available
Professional treatment must be sought if your child’s mouth has made space and the tooth still does not erupt. Typically, braces are used to force the impacted tooth into its place in the arch. If a baby tooth is still present, it is usually holding space for the adult tooth to come in. However, in the case of impaction it is typically best to have the baby tooth extracted.
The surgical procedure for erupting an impacted tooth is fairly simple and performed in our office by Dr. Elias. He will carefully lift the gum to expose the impacted tooth enough to place an orthodontic bracket. If a baby tooth is still present, it will be removed. The bracket will be connected to the rest of the braces to force the tooth to take its position in the arch. Over the next year, a series of rubber bands will be used to help guide the tooth during its progression. The process is long, but it is worth enduring to avoid complications later in life.
If you or your child is suffering from an impacted canine, contact us immediately to schedule a consultation and plan treatment: 818-696-4425.