An impacted tooth stays in the gums or bone for various reasons. The impacted tooth could also be coming in at the wrong position.
The second-most common impacted teeth are the canine teeth. Resembling the long, sharp teeth found in dogs, human canine teeth are the four pointed teeth just outside the upper and lower incisors.
Canine teeth have the longest roots. They are located at the corners of the mouth and help to grasp and tear food. In addition to being vital for eating and speaking, canine teeth support the structure of the mouth and facial features. They serve as guideposts when adult teeth begin to erupt in children.
Causes and Common Problems
The most common cause of canine teeth becoming impacted is insufficient space in the jaw, overcrowding, misalignment, or interference by other teeth.
If the canine teeth cannot find room to emerge, they could become partially or fully trapped under the gums. Problems could range from cysts and tumors in the jaw to periodontal disease and associated infections.
Why is early detection critical?
Children should have an initial dental examination by age 7 for an early diagnosis of potential alignment and problems.
In children by the ages of 11 or 12, if steps can be taken to clear a path for the erupting canine teeth using braces, chances are good that the impacted canine will erupt without surgery.
If detection is delayed and the impacted canine tooth and its roots are allowed to fully develop, surgery may be the only option. In fact, the longer the treatment is delayed into adulthood, the impacted tooth is likely to become fused into the surrounding upper jaw bone.
When total fusion occurs, the only treatment option is to remove the impacted canine tooth, followed by dental implants.
The goal is to allow the impacted wisdom tooth to erupt without surgical intervention. Since overcrowding in the jaw is the cause of the problem, the initial step is creating a space for the impacted canine to grow. This can be done through braces on the upper teeth with the goal of forming open spaces, making room for the canines.
For many children, treating impacted canines requires the removal of any baby teeth that are blocking the eruption. If the impacted canine fails to erupt after clearing space for it, additional surgery can expose and bracket the impacted canine tooth, through the following steps:
1. The oral surgeon lifts the gum tissue to expose the tooth.
2. The surgeon places an orthodontic bracket and a small gold chain around the exposed tooth. The chain links the bracket to an orthodontic wire attached to the braces.
3. When the sutures heal, the surgeon attaches a rubber band to the chain, pulling the tooth into the proper location.
The procedure can take about 45 minutes. The surgeon performs the procedure using either nitrous oxide or IV sedation.
Most patients only experience mild discomfort and bleeding after surgery. Your dental surgeon can prescribe antibiotics or pain medication. Usually, over-the-counter pain relievers will suffice.