Reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Foley and Dr. Thao Le

Impacted canines, a dental condition where the canine teeth do not erupt properly, pose significant oral health challenges. Early detection and timely treatment will prevent further complications, such as damage to surrounding teeth, misalignment, or the development of cysts.

This blog will discuss the symptoms of impacted canines, treatment options, and the benefits of exposing impacted canines.

Table of Contents

What Are Impacted Canines?

The canines, also known as cuspids or ‘eye teeth’, are some of the most critical teeth in the mouth. They are located at the ‘corners’ of the dental arches, directly below the eyes. You have four canines in total, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower.

These sharp-pointed teeth are designed to tear food and guide the rest of the teeth when we chew and grind food. Their location, appearance, and function give them a significant role in your dental health and facial aesthetics.Impacted canines occur when the teeth cannot erupt properly. This may be due to overcrowding, lack of space, or developmental issues. Impacted canines are more commonly seen in adult teeth than baby teeth and usually present during adolescence. It is important to note that this condition is not always visible and can remain hidden until it begins to cause pain or discomfort.

Key Takeaway

Impacted canines occur when the teeth cannot erupt properly. Commonly seen in adult teeth and usually present during adolescence. Treatment is done by a surgeon and orthodontist.

Symptoms of Canine Impaction

The most common symptom of impacted canine teeth is that the canine teeth fail to erupt into the mouth by the age of 12 or 13 years old or that the baby canine tooth fails to exfoliate naturally. 

Additional symptoms may include:

  • Swelling and tenderness in the gum line near where the tooth should be erupting
  • Visible displacement of adjacent teeth
  • Unsightly appearance in the smile due to misalignment of the impacted canine.

Why Is Early Detection Important?

Identifying impacted canines in their earliest stages significantly increases the chances of successful treatment. 

Early detection offers the following benefits:

  1. Reduced complications: Early intervention can help prevent damage to surrounding structures like adjacent teeth, bone, and gum tissue.
  2. Less invasive treatments: When detected early, less invasive treatments like impacted canine exposure and tooth bracketing can be used, making the overall process easier to manage. If impacted canines are not treated during adolescence it may result in the teeth needing to be extracted, bone grafted and replaced once the patient becomes an adult as the impacted canine is less likely to erupt with an expose and bond procedure.
  3. Shorter treatment time: Early detection and treatment mean that your impacted canines can be corrected sooner, which means a shorter overall treatment time.
  4. Better results: Treating canines at an early stage before they deviate significantly from their usual path ensures that they remain as healthy and functional as possible.

Exposing and Bracketing an Impacted Canine

The treatment plan for exposing an impacted canine will vary from patient to patient, and will include surgical-orthodontic treatment. This means that you will see an orthodontist and an oral surgeon for treatment.

Before the surgical procedure, an orthodontist will place orthodontic braces on your upper teeth.  Your oral surgeon will then make a small incision in the gum tissue to reach the impacted tooth and create a pathway for it to erupt. If a baby tooth is still in place, it will be removed during this stage.

Once the tooth is exposed, the surgeon will attach an orthodontic bracket to the tooth. The bracket has a very small gold chain that is connected to a wire. This chain will help to pull the tooth into the correct position so that it can erupt correctly. 

Your surgeon will provide you with instructions for your post-surgical care. It is very important that you follow these instructions to ensure you heal properly. 

After a few weeks, you will return to your orthodontist, who will activate the tooth eruption process. Once the tooth has moved into the correct position, the bracket will be removed, and you will be asked to wear a retainer at night to keep the tooth in place.

Benefits of Exposing an Impacted Canine

Exposing impacted canines, although surgical, presents several benefits that make it worth considering:

  1. Prevents damage: By redirecting the path of an impacted tooth, it prevents damage to adjacent teeth and surrounding bone structures.
  2. Promotes proper alignment: This treatment ensures proper alignment of the teeth, which enhances oral functionality and aesthetic appeal.
  3. Relief from pain and discomfort: Once the impacted tooth is treated, it alleviates the associated pain and discomfort.
  4. Prevents further complications: Early intervention prevents future oral health problems such as infections, cysts and the need for a tooth replacement with a dental implant.
  5. Improves oral health: With the impacted canine treated, overall oral health is improved, and regular dental cleaning becomes easier and more effective.

Oral Surgeon Boulder, CO

At Foley & Le Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, we are dedicated to helping our patients achieve healthy, functional, and aesthetically pleasing smiles. If you suspect that you or your child may have an impacted canine, don’t wait! Timely intervention is crucial.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and let our experienced team guide you through the process of early detection and treatment for impacted canines. To book an appointment, call (303) 444-2255 or complete the online booking form.

For the best oral surgeon in Boulder, CO, trust Foley & Le Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. For more information about impacted canines, read Impacted Canine Exposure & Tooth Bracketing.

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