Exposing Impacted Canines

Even if you don’t know a lot of dental terminology, you can probably identify the upper canines. They are usually longer and pointier than the other upper front teeth. A smile without visible upper canines won’t look exactly right. In fact, the canines are so important both aesthetically and functionally, they are sometimes known as the cornerstones of the dental arches. They are also called eyeteeth because, when they grow in properly, they are located under the eyes. When they are impacted (simply meaning blocked from fully erupting), they may not be visible in the mouth at all.

canine 1

Fortunately, with the help of minor oral surgery and orthodontics, impacted canines can be exposed and moved into the proper position. It is not uncommon for adult teeth to be crowded, creating an improper bite. Crowding means there is insufficient room for the teeth to erupt naturally into good alignment in order to create a good bite. Some teeth may actually become impacted, meaning that they grow and develop in positions that do not all them to erupt at all. Impacted teeth can develop abscesses, damage the roots of neighboring teeth, or become cystic over time. These issues are more commonly associated with wisdom teeth, which are often removed when they are impacted. Canines, however, are so prominent in the smile and so important to the bite, every attempt should be made to salvage and utilize them.

If the canine teeth are in reasonable position, they will need to be exposed and uncovered so that the orthodontist can attach orthodontic braces to them and move them into proper position. This requires a minor oral surgical procedure, usually carried out by an oral surgeon. The surgeon will numb the area around the impacted tooth with local anesthesia and then create a small opening in the gum tissue in order to see and gain access to the buried tooth.

canine 2

Once the crown is exposed, the surgeon or orthodontist will bond a small bracket to it. The gum tissues are then placed back into position. Attached to the bracket is a small gold chain, which loops over orthodontic hardware attached to the teeth. This mechanism will pull the impacted canine teeth into proper position over a period of several months.