What Are Impacted Canines?
While the third molars, more commonly known as the wisdom teeth, are not necessary and are frequently removed, the canines are essential components of a strong, healthy bite. They serve a fundamental purpose in biting food and are a highly noticeable part of an aesthetically pleasing smile. If you are affected by impacted canines and are concerned with the way this makes you look or feel, your oral surgeon can help.
Understanding Impacted Canines
The canines are the last of the permanent teeth to erupt and possess the longest roots in the entire mouth. This means that, when they develop properly, canines have a stronger connection to the bone of the jaw than do other teeth. When they do erupt, usually around the age of 13, canines help to push surrounding teeth together, closing any gaps that exist between them or, in some cases, causing crowding of the front teeth that may require orthodontic intervention. In either case, the development and growth of the canines is important to the structure of the entire bite.
When canine teeth fail to erupt properly or in a timely manner, an x-ray can help to determine the problem. The canine tooth may fail to erupt as it should due to insufficient space between surrounding teeth. In other cases, it may be growing beneath the gum at an improper angle. Depending on the nature of the issue, an oral surgeon will frequently work with the orthodontist taking care of the patient, each of them contributing to a treatment plan aimed at resolving the problem. Treatment may involve a minor, in-office procedure in which the oral surgeon makes an incision along the gum line where the impacted canine is located. This allows for the removal of any primary canines that have yet to erupt as well as the placement of necessary orthodontic devices.
Complications of Canine Impaction
In some cases of one or more impacted canine teeth, complications that require further treatment may arise. The most effective method of preventing these problems involves early detection and treatment. Some common issues associated with untreated impacted canine teeth in children and adults are:
- Infection that may spread to surrounding gum tissue
- Pain and swelling in the affected area
- Advanced gum disease
- Development of cysts in the gums and jaws
Fortunately, modern dental technology allows your oral surgeon to detect, evaluate and treat impacted canines and other potentially serious problems quickly and efficiently, giving you the healthy, attractive smile you’ve always wanted.
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