Impacted Canine Uncoverings

Second only to wisdom teeth, the maxillary canine is the most common tooth to become impacted in the jaw. These teeth play a vital role in your bite. They should be the first teeth to come into contact when your jaws close and they guide the rest of the teeth into the correct bite. Usually, they will erupt around age 12 and could possibly become impacted if the crown of the tooth is impeded by the surrounding bone.

If a canine tooth gets impacted, every effort is made to get it to erupt into its proper position in the bite. 85% of impacted canines are located on the palate or roof of the mouth. The remaining impacted canines are found on the lip side or in the middle path of eruption.

Early Diagnosis

Early assessment and diagnosis of the impacted canine tooth is crucial to being able to move it into the arch.  The older the patient, there is a high likelihood that an impacted canine will not erupt by natural forces alone even if the space is available for the tooth to fit into the bite.

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that all children have a check-up with an orthodontic specialist no later than age 7. It is important to determine whether all the adult teeth are present or are some adult teeth missing, if there are extra teeth present or barriers that are blocking the eruption of the permanent teeth, if there is extreme crowding or too little space available causing an eruption problem with the permanent teeth, especially the canine tooth. Treating an impacted canine may involve an orthodontist placing braces to open spaces to allow for proper eruption of the canine.

Treatment may also require being seen in our office for extraction of baby teeth and/or selected adult teeth that are blocking the eruption of the important canine teeth. We can also remove any bone that is blocking eruption of the canine. If the eruption path is cleared and the space is opened up by age 11-12, there is a good chance the impacted canine will erupt naturally without having to attach any devices like a button and chain to pull the tooth. As the patient ages, the canine will not likely erupt by itself even if enough space is cleared for its eruption. It is also possible that the canine could become fused to the bone once the patient progresses toward adulthood. In these cases the tooth will not move despite the collective efforts of the orthodontists, as well as ourselves, to erupt it into place. At this point, the options would be to extract the tooth or leave it alone and consider an alternative treatment to replace it such as a dental implant, bridge or a removable partial denture.