The wisdom teeth aren’t the only ones that can become impacted. In fact, any of the permanent teeth can fail to erupt properly, and this outcome is not uncommon with the maxillary cuspid, more commonly known as the upper canines or eyeteeth. In fact, the canines are the second most likely to become impacted after the wisdom teeth.
Unlike the wisdom teeth, though, the upper canines play an important role in the mouth both functionally and aesthetically. When they are impacted, a patient needs to have treatment in order to allow those teeth to come in.
The upper canines are also late to erupt, generally around age 13. As patients get older, upper canines that have not yet erupted are more likely to become impacted, so patients should be examined by an oral surgeon if they have passed through their pre-teen years without having the canines come in.
As with the wisdom teeth, the oral surgeon will rely on x-rays to determine if the upper canines have become impacted.
An effective intervention for impacted canines typically will involve collaboration between an oral surgeon and an orthodontist. The procedure most commonly used for this issue is called a tooth exposure and bracketing.
The orthodontist will first use conventional braces to align the teeth in a way that creates adequate space for the canine’s eruption.
After there’s enough room for the impacted tooth, our oral surgeon will make an incision into the gum tissue to expose the tooth and attach a bracket and chain to it. The surgeon may remove any bone that is covering up the tooth, as well.
Additionally, if the primary canine has not yet fallen out, the oral surgeon will need to extract it before the permanent canine can be guided into place.
When the patient has healed after the surgery, the orthodontist takes over again, attaching the chain to the rest of the orthodontic appliance in order to guide the tooth into the right spot.
Impacted canines can have significant consequences for the smile’s appearance and a patient’s ability to speak and chew properly. If you have concerns that your child’s upper canines may be unable to erupt, contact our office to schedule an initial evaluation.