Impacted Canines

An impacted tooth is simply a tooth that is blocked or "stuck" under the gum and cannot erupt or grow into the correct position. Canine teeth are important for chewing and for the appearance of a pleasing smile. As a result, every effort is made to try and align impacted canine teeth but sometimes this is not always possible or advisable.

Canines refer to the two upper (maxillary) and two lower (mandibular) teeth which are sometimes referred to as cuspids or "eye teeth" because of their positioning beneath the eyes. Humans have small canines that project slightly beyond the level of the other teeth and have an oversized root. The upper canine teeth usually come into place between the ages of 11-13 years and your dentist will play an important role in detecting if there is an early problem with their development and, if this is the case, may refer you to a specialist.

Why should I correct an impacted canine?

  • Impacted canines could leave you with unsightly gaps between your other upper teeth.
  • Since canines touch first when the jaw closes, they help to guide the jaws and other teeth into a proper closed position.

Why do canine teeth become impacted?

  • There maybe a genetic element and another family member may have had a similar problem.
  • Over crowding.
  • Missing or odd shaped adjacent teeth resulting in lack of guidance for the canine.
  • Extra teeth impeding their pathway.

What can be done surgically for impacted canine teeth?

Your dentist may recommend extraction of teeth due to overcrowding. Extraction can generally be performed under local anesthetic by an oral surgeon. The impacted canine can then be exposed and guided into place using a bracket.

An orthodontic brace may be used with younger patients to help create a space on the dental arch for the impacted canine. Surgery for impacted canines does not usually require overnight stays.