Most of the time, a tooth follows a set path that allows it to erupt from the gums into its proper position in the mouth. However, it is not uncommon for a tooth to get stuck along the way and become completely or partially trapped beneath the gums. When this happens, a tooth is said to be impacted. Impaction can occur for any tooth, but wisdom teeth and canine teeth are the most commonly affected.
Wisdom teeth are often recommended for removal, regardless of impaction. But canine teeth — the four pointed teeth at the corners of the mouth — are important to the bite and function of the mouth. In the instance of an impacted canine, oral surgeons and orthodontists will work together to help the tooth come in properly.
Canine teeth come in around the age of 11 or 12 and are the last primary teeth to grow into the mouth. They also have the longest tooth root of all the teeth. Canine teeth guide the alignment and function of other teeth. Canine teeth can become impacted for a few reasons:
- Baby teeth do not fall out in time
- The path is blocked due to unusual growths
- Poor alignment of surrounding teeth
- Extra teeth in the mouth (although this is rare)
If an impacted tooth is suspected, an X-ray or CT scan will confirm the diagnosis. Your dentist can follow the development of your child’s teeth through regular checkups and can refer to us for further treatment. An impacted canine has the best chance to grow in on its own if it is exposed as early as possible.
Exposure of an impacted tooth requires many specialists but is a routine procedure. Your orthodontist will first create a space in the gums for the impacted tooth by gently moving the surrounding teeth into their new positions. Once the space is ready, your oral surgeon will expose the impacted tooth during a minor procedure. A small chain and orthodontic bracket will be bonded to the tooth. The chain will help your orthodontist guide the canine into position as it grows in.
The procedure of exposing an impacted tooth is performed in-office with local anesthesia or IV sedation. Some discomfort afterward is normal and to be expected. Your oral surgeon will discuss your pain management options ahead of your procedure.
Impacted Tooth Exposure in Anacortes, WA
If you or your child have an impacted tooth, we encourage you to schedule a consultation by giving us a call. Together, we will customize a treatment plan that is right for you. We look forward to caring for you and your family at North Sound Oral & Facial Surgery.