Did you know that your upper teeth carry a weighty responsibility in your oral health, and even in the way you look?
It’s true: maxillary canines guide your mouth into position when you bite, help to shape your face as they develop, and when properly aligned, prevent excessive wear and damage to your other teeth.
Impacted canines, therefore, need to be attended to right away.
How do you know, though, if you’re dealing with an impacted canine, and what can you do about it?
What Is an Impacted Tooth?
When a tooth can’t break through the gum as it usually would, then it becomes known as an impacted tooth. If a tooth makes it through the gum but can’t fully descend into place, this is called a partially impacted tooth.
The most affected teeth are wisdom teeth, closely followed by maxillary canines or upper eyeteeth.
Causes of Impacted Teeth
While the causes vary from person to person, a tooth will become impacted when there is no room available for it to join its ‘toothmates.’
In the case of children, it may be that their jaw has not grown as fast as it needs to in order to accommodate the secondary teeth. Some people have genetically large (wide) teeth which can pose a problem when these adult teeth start coming in.
Whatever the situation, it’s not something to ignore.
Common Signs of an Impacted Canine
No matter which tooth is affected, the symptoms of impacted teeth are very much the same.
For example, you would expect to see swelling in the affected area as well as redness and in some cases, bleeding. You may also experience pain when opening your mouth or when chewing, with some people reporting headaches and dull, persistent aching in the jaw.
There may be a gap in your gum where the tooth should be erupting but has failed to descend, or you may suffer from bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth.
If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, then it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist right away.
Complications Arising From Impacted Teeth
Can’t we just leave them alone? Surely if an impacted tooth isn’t causing pain then we don’t need to put ourselves through any unnecessary procedures.
In fact, some people remain entirely unaware of an impacted tooth and suffer no discomfort at all.
The fact is though, impacted teeth should not be where they are, and in this incorrect space, problems will arise.
Partially impacted teeth are notoriously difficult to clean. Over time this will lead to decay, cavities, or infection, and very likely gum disease.
Damage to Surrounding Teeth
Whether partially or fully impacted, the tooth will start to push on the surrounding teeth and cause them to become misaligned. The problem may go deeper as cysts develop and wreak havoc on the roots and bone.
In dentistry, it’s always wise to catch a problem early to prevent bigger and more painful issues down the line.
Treatment Options for Impacted Canines
When wisdom teeth become impacted, it’s common to simply remove them. However, canines serve an important role and dentists are more likely to seek a treatment method to allow them to come in correctly.
These upper eyeteeth form a critical part of the dental arch which determines how the teeth in the mouth are positioned. They are the first teeth to touch, essentially, guides to the proper alignment of your jaw when you close your mouth.
In suspected cases of impacted canines, a dentist will x-ray the mouth to understand why this has happened and what the best treatment would be.
In some cases, the lucky patient just needs to wait it out and the problem rectifies itself over time. Others, though, may require intervention as the dentist will need to extract primary teeth that are causing the blockage.
Eruption aids such as braces, or brackets may be required to help the descending tooth into place.
Impacted Canines in Children
In the case of an impacted canine in a child, this is most commonly rectified by simply removing the primary teeth blocking it. Over time, the canine will come through and the natural movement of the lips and tongue will allow the tooth to settle correctly.
In a situation where too many teeth have come through before the jaw can fully accommodate them, more teeth may need to be extracted to allow space and avoid crowding.
Treatment for Adults
Some adults suffered from impacted teeth as children, and now bear the burden of overcrowding and misalignment. Can this be rectified?
Extracting some of the teeth followed by orthodontic care to realign the remaining teeth would possibly be the best treatment.
A popular choice for many seeking a brand-new smile is the Invisalign treatment. This solution caters to your highly individual needs and offers a virtually invisible, removable alignment product. For patients who are anxious about the aesthetics of traditional ‘tracks,’ even for a short period of time, this is definitely an excellent option.
We’ll Keep You Smiling
Our mission at TDR Orthodontics is to help you get and keep your beautiful smile. We also understand, though, that dental visits can cause some anxiety, even though you know that we can solve your problem.
Therefore, if you suspect that you are dealing with an impacted canine and would like some advice, take a moment to book a free virtual exam with one of our friendly team. We will be thrilled to offer advice and treatment options to suit you.