Impacted Canines

An impacted tooth simply means that it is “stuck” and cannot erupt through your gums into its proper place.

The maxillary cuspid (upper canine) is second only to wisdom teeth as the most common tooth to become impacted. The cuspid tooth is a critical tooth in the dental arch and is designed by nature to be the first teeth that touch when your jaws close together so that they guide the rest of the teeth into the proper bite. If a cuspid tooth is impacted, every effort is made to help it erupt into its proper position.

The older the patient, the more likely an impacted canine will not erupt by nature’s forces alone even if the space is available for the tooth to fit into its proper place. If your general dentist or orthodontist sees problems with an impacted tooth, he will refer you to our office for a complete consultation.

What to Expect
Treatment involves a combined effort between the orthodontist and the oral surgeon. Sometimes an oral surgeon will extract baby teeth or selected adult teeth that are blocking the eruption of your canines. Usually, your orthodontist will place braces on the teeth (at least the upper arch) and open up a space for the impacted tooth to be moved into its proper position. Once the space is ready, the orthodontist will refer the patient to our office to have the impacted canine exposed and bracketed.

The procedure is performed under local anesthesia or light sedation. The gum on top of the impacted tooth will be lifted up to expose the hidden tooth underneath. Once the tooth is exposed, the oral surgeon will attach an orthodontic bracket with a miniature gold chain to the exposed tooth. The oral surgeon will then attach the chain to the braces.

Once the procedure is completed, the patient recovers under careful supervision in our office until the patient is ready to be taken home. See our postoperative (link to Forms & Policies page) instructions for home care and comfort.

A few days after surgery, the patient will return to the orthodontist. A small rubber band will be attached to the chain to provide gentle pulling pressure on the impacted tooth, and it will slowly move into correct position.