The canine teeth, also called the maxillary cuspids or eyeteeth, are typically the last front teeth to erupt in the mouth at around age 13. Similar to wisdom teeth, there is often not enough space for them to erupt, causing them to become impacted. However, unlike wisdom teeth, the canines are far too essential to aesthetics and function to simply extract. Instead, we must coax them into position.
Aesthetics and Function
Your canines are crucial to your smile and your bite. When it comes to aesthetics, the canines are the cornerstones of the arch, preventing the smile from sinking and providing good lip support. Regarding functionality, the canines are very strong and have the longest roots of all your teeth. They prevent other teeth in the mouth from doing all the work, which would lead to damage over time.
Early Screening is Key
Children should be screened by an orthodontist at age 7 to monitor the development of their teeth, including that of the eyeteeth. Early checkups may help your child avoid extensive oral surgery down the road. If it seems likely that the canines are going to become impacted, we may be able to remove baby teeth in the surrounding area to ensure adequate space for canine development.
It’s quite clear that the treatment for impacted teeth gets more complicated as time goes on:
- 11-12 year-old children—We are able to preemptively make space for the canines, ensuring a good chance for successful eruption.
- 13-14 year-old children—Even if we clear space, the canines will likely need to be pulled down into place with braces.
- 15 years+ —As time passes, an impacted tooth fuses into position, leading to necessary extraction and restoration.
Complications of untreated impacted teeth can lead to the loss of neighboring tooth roots and cystic lesions.
In cases where the canine does not erupt on its own, we work closely with our orthodontic colleagues to help bring the impacted teeth into position. Once the orthodontist has placed braces on the teeth, a space is slowly opened to provide room for the impacted tooth to be moved into its proper position in the dental arch. Next, the orthodontist sends the patient to us, and we expose and bracket the impacted eyetooth.
Impacted Canine Surgery
The surgery to expose impacted canines is a comfortable procedure that is done under local anesthesia and takes about 45 minutes. During the surgery, the crown of the tooth is uncovered, and depending on the severity of impaction, we may attach a bracket and gold chain to the tooth for the orthodontist to pull it into proper position over a series of orthodontic visits. Alternatively, we may simply apply a dressing and let it find its own way into position. It is of utmost importance that you maintain good dental hygiene as part of your home care practice. Mild swelling and soreness may occur for several days after surgery and can be managed easily with over-the-counter pain medicines. We will schedule a follow up appointment with you about a week after surgery to check on your healing.
Should you have any concerns about the status of your healing, please do not hesitate to call us! Naples Office: WestShore OMS Naples Phone Number 239-263-7474 or Bonita Springs Office: WestShore OMS Bonita Springs Phone Number 239-992-9201.