The human teeth comprise of two lower (mandibular) canines and two upper (maxillary) canines. Sometimes canine teeth are called fangs, cuspids, or “eye teeth” because they are directly positioned under the eyes. The roots of canine teeth are more conical and thicker than incisors and they are firmly connected to the jaw. Canine teeth also have the longest roots and are the last to really fall into place or erupt (often around the age of thirteen).
When a tooth is impacted, it means that it is stuck, blocked or not able to function or erupt properly. Wisdom teeth (third molars) are often more likely to get impacted. Wisdom teeth do not perform any special function in the mouth and often get removed. However, impacted canines are a serious condition and need to be treated for the following reasons:
- Closing Gaps – of all the front teeth, canines are the last to fall into place and therefore close any spaces between the other upper teeth.
- First Touch – canines are hugely important when it comes to “biting.” They first touch when the jaw is closed, guiding the other teeth into position.
Proper Function & Alignment – canine teeth are can affect the correct function and alignment of the other teeth on the dental arch. Impacted or missing canine can significantly affect the smile’s aesthetic appearance and function.
What causes canine teeth to become impacted?
Many factors are responsible impacted canine teeth:
Extra Teeth – the presence of extra teeth may inhibit the canine teeth from erupting naturally. An extra tooth may block the eruption progress of the canine or there might be no room on the dental arch for the canine due to the resulting overcrowding.
Overcrowding – sometimes poorly aligned teeth can cause overcrowding. The teeth do not have sufficient space which means the teeth are in content competition, and this reduces their functionality.
Unusual Growths – there are some rare occasions when the progress of the canine can be impeded by unusual growths on the soft tissue, which results in later impaction
Comprehensive and early teeth examination can help prevent the occurrence of impacted canines. The dentist needs to keep a record of the number of teeth present when the patient is just around 7 years of age so as to be able to detect whether canine teeth are present or not. The likelihood of an impacted canine tooth erupting naturally reduces as the patient gets older. If canine teeth are erupting slowly or missing, the dentist can recommend the best medications and treatment.
First, the dentist will carry out a detailed visual assessment of the teeth, followed by a panorex x-ray and/or individual x-rays. Once the dentist has detected the cause of the impaction, a treatment option will be selected from the various available ones depending on the patient’s age. The aim is to ensure that the eruption of the impacted canines is aided, and this can be achieved by an oral surgeon, the dentist, or an orthodontist.
What does the treatment of impacted canines involve?
If your teeth are overcrowded for any reason, the dentist may require that you go through tooth extraction. An oral surgeon will generally carry out the procedure with the aid of local anesthetic. The surgeon then lifts the gum to reveal the un-erupted canine which is then guided into place with the aid of a special bracket.
For younger patients, they may have an orthodontic brace fitted to free up space on the dental arch for the impacted canine. Impacted canine surgeries do not require that the patient stay overnight. You will be given some post-treatment advice and pain medication to aid your recovery.