Impacted canine teeth occur when one of your four adult canines, also known as eye teeth or cuspid teeth, becomes stuck beneath the gum line. These molars are typically located on both sides of the front teeth, and they can cause a range of symptoms. We call this condition “impacted root development.”
In order to gain relief from uncomfortable symptoms, many people opt for surgical extraction of impacted canines. It’s important to become familiar with the condition so you can make an informed decision about treatment. Here’s everything you need to know about impacted canine teeth and their removal.
What are Impacted Canine Teeth?
When people think of impacted teeth, they usually think of wisdom teeth, but they are not the only teeth that can have this issue. Impacted canine teeth occur when the permanent canine teeth, located at the corner of the upper and lower dental arch, get stuck in the gum line and struggle to break through. In some cases, the cuspid tooth will eventually grow outwards instead of downwards towards its proper position. This can lead to misalignment with your other teeth and can cause discomfort.
Impacted canines are a common tooth problem. In fact, your maxillary cuspid teeth/upper canines are the second most likely teeth to become impacted. Impaction can occur in both children and adults and, if left untreated, can lead to further dental complications. Your dentist can diagnose whether you have impacted canine teeth and offer treatment options if needed.
Causes of Impacted Canines
Impacted canines are most commonly caused by delayed tooth eruption. There are several reasons why canines can become impacted, but generally, they are caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors.
Some of the genetic factors commonly associated with impacted canines include having smaller jaw size, crowding of teeth, or having extra teeth in the jaw.
Common environmental factors associated with impacted canines include trauma to the area, lack of space in the jaw for teeth to erupt normally, and prolonged orthodontic treatment without proper extraction of teeth. Also, individuals who smoke or have poor oral hygiene may be more susceptible to having impacted canines due to changes in their alveolar bone (the bone supporting the tooth) which may further restrict the proper eruption of adult teeth.
Signs of Incorrect Eruption
Impacted canines can be painful and uncomfortable and may cause a range of symptoms. In some cases, impacted canines may not cause any noticeable symptoms, and the condition may only be detected during a routine dental exam. Symptoms can include:
- Pain or discomfort in the mouth
- Swelling or tenderness around the affected tooth
- A persistent or throbbing toothache
- Red, inflamed gums around the affected tooth
- A noticeable gap or space between the teeth where the canine should be
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of impacted canines, it’s essential to seek dental treatment. Your dentist will perform a thorough exam of your mouth and may take X-rays or other imaging tests to determine the extent of the impaction.
The treatment for impacted canines will depend on the severity of the impaction and the age of the patient. In some cases, no treatment may be necessary if the impacted tooth is not causing any problems or discomfort.
However, if treatment is needed, there are several options available, including:
Orthodontic Treatment: Braces and Appliances
The orthodontic treatment for impacted canines involves the use of braces or other orthodontic appliances to move the tooth into position. In some cases, a surgical procedure may be necessary to expose the tooth and allow it to move. During the course of treatment, adjustments are made over several months so that the pressure on the tooth is slow and steady. With careful monitoring by your orthodontist, impacted canines can be properly positioned in most cases.
Exposure and Bonding
For more severe cases of impaction, an oral surgeon may need to perform a surgical exposure and bonding. This involves exposing the impacted tooth and attaching an orthodontic bracket to it. The bracket is then attached to a dental arch wire, which helps to guide the tooth into its correct position.
Extraction and Oral Surgery
In rare cases, the impacted tooth may need to be removed. This is often the case for older patients or cases where the tooth is causing severe pain or discomfort. This can also involve moving or repositioning adjacent teeth if necessary and removing a baby tooth if it is present.
The process generally involves exposing the tooth, removing any soft tissue blocking it, extracting it from its socket, and then cleaning up the socket afterward. In some cases, dental crowns or dental implants may also be necessary after the extraction.
Benefits of Treating Impacted Canines
Treating impacted canines can offer many benefits, including:
- Reduced risk of dental problems. Treating an impaction early can help prevent further dental issues, such as tooth decay or gum disease.
- Improved appearance. Straightening your permanent teeth can improve the overall appearance of your smile.
- Better oral hygiene. Straightening the teeth can make it easier to clean and maintain your teeth and gum tissue, reducing your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
- Improved chewing function. Treating an impaction can improve your ability to chew properly and comfortably.
How Patients Can Prevent Impacted Teeth
While it’s not always possible to prevent impacted canines, there are some things that you can do to reduce your risk, including:
- Practicing good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing regularly
- Visiting your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings
- Wearing a mouthguard if you participate in contact sports
- Eating a balanced diet and avoiding sugary snacks
- Avoiding tobacco products
Importance of Early Treatment
When it comes to treating impacted canines, the first step is to consult with your dentist. Your dentist will be able to evaluate your individual case and recommend the best treatment option for you. Depending on the severity of the impaction, you may need orthodontic treatment, exposure, and bonding, or extraction. It’s important to remember that early diagnosis and treatment are key in preventing further dental complications.
If you think you may be at risk for impacted canines, give our office a call to discuss preventive measures that you can take. We can also help you develop a treatment plan if necessary. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to preventing further dental complications.