BCOH Impacted Canine Teeth Surgery

Humans have two upper (maxillary) canines and two lower (mandibular) canines. These teeth are sometimes referred to as cuspids, fangs, or “eye teeth” because of their direct positioning beneath the eyes. They have thicker and more conical roots than incisors and thus have an especially firm connection to the jaw. Canine teeth often have the longest root of all teeth in the human mouth and are commonly the last to fully erupt and fall into place, typically around the age of 13.

What are impacted teeth?

Impacted teeth are teeth that are blocked, stuck or unable to fully erupt and function properly.

Why are impacted canine teeth important to treat?

Third molars (wisdom teeth) most commonly fall victim to impaction, but the upper canines are the second most common teeth to become impacted. Wisdom teeth serve no important function in the mouth and are frequently removed. However, impacted canines are critical to the bite and require treatment for the following reasons:

  • Closing gaps: Canines are the last of the front teeth to fall into place and therefore close any unsightly gaps between the other upper teeth.
  • First touch: Canines play a vital role in the biting mechanism of the teeth. They are the first to touch when the jaw closes, and guide the other teeth into position.
  • Proper alignment & function: Canine teeth are essential to the correct alignment and function of the other teeth on the dental arch. Missing or impacted canines can greatly affect the function and aesthetic appearance of the smile.

What causes canine teeth to become impacted?

There are several common causes for impacted canine teeth:

  • Overcrowding: Poor alignment of the front teeth can lead to overcrowding. The existing teeth compete for space which means that the canines do not have sufficient room to become functional.
  • Extra teeth: If extra teeth are present, the natural eruption of the canine teeth may be inhibited. The eruption progress may be directly blocked by an extra tooth or the subsequent overcrowding may leave no room on the dental arch for the canine tooth to come in.
  • Unusual growths: In rare cases, unusual growths on the soft tissue of the gums can restrict the progress of canine teeth, which leads to impaction.

Early and thorough examination of the teeth can prevent problems with impacted canines. It is important for the dentist to document the number teeth present when the patient is around 7 years of age in order to record the presence or absence of canine teeth. The older the patient becomes, the less likely it is that an impacted canine tooth will erupt naturally. If canine teeth are missing or very slow in fully erupting, the dentist can make recommendations for proper treatment.

What does the treatment of impacted canine teeth involve?

At Boston Center for Oral Health, one of our Boston dentists initially conducts a thorough visual examination of the teeth, accompanied by a panoramic X-ray and/or individual X-rays. Once the cause of the impaction has been determined, there will be several treatment options available, depending upon the age of the patient. The objective is to aid the eruption of the impacted canines, and this can be skillfully done by the dentist, an oral surgeon or an orthodontist.

If the cause of impacted canine teeth is overcrowding, the dentist may recommend extraction of teeth. The extraction will generally be performed under local anesthesia by an oral surgeon. The impacted canine will be exposed by lifting the gum and guided into place using a special bracket.

In the case of younger patients, an orthodontic brace may be fitted to create a space on the dental arch for the impacted canine while it grows in. Surgery for impacted canines usually does not require an overnight stay. Pain medication will be prescribed as necessary, and you’ll be given post-treatment advice for your recovery.

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