Most patients are familiar with the problem of impacted wisdom teeth, a situation common to most young people. Wisdom teeth, however, are lodged at the very back of the jaw and seldom seen, so they are little missed when removed or if they fail to erupt. This is not so with canines. The canines, located in the front of the jaw, are essential teeth and impacted canines are best treated as soon as possible.
The canines are also known as cuspids or “eye teeth,” since they align visually with the eyes. In animals, they form the fangs. You have two canines in both your upper and lower jaw. Since they deal with strong tearing forces while chewing, they have the longest roots of all teeth. The canines are essential to your bite and dental health for the following reasons:
Since they are amongst the last teeth to erupt, the healthy progress of your other permanent teeth is vital to the development of the canines. Canines fail to erupt for many reasons. The most common are:
Both of these problems highlight the need for regular dental visits when young teeth are developing. X-rays and examinations can identify the problem of impacted canines early, when treatment is easier.
Every situation is different, so treatment for impacted canines varies. Typically, any abnormal extra teeth are removed and the hidden canine is exposed by oral surgery. Local anesthetic and post-operative pain medication are usually sufficient to keep the patient comfortable. If you have particular anxieties or concerns about the procedure, sleep dentistry is also an option. Orthodontics are often needed to bring the canine into its proper place over time.
The end result of an impacted canine procedure — and important tooth in place where it belongs and the healthy smile you were meant to have!