Impacted Canine Exposure

The canine teeth, also called the maxillary cuspids or “eyeteeth”, are typically the last front teeth to erupt in the mouth, usually around age 13. As with 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 good aesthetics and function in the mouth to simply extract – instead, we must “coax” them into position.

Aesthetics and Function

Your canines are vitally important to your smile and your bite:

  • Aesthetics: The canine teeth are the cornerstones of the arch. Without them, the smile sinks and the lips look thinner.
  • Function: The canines are extremely strong and have the longest roots of any teeth. Without them, other teeth in the mouth are forced to work unusually hard, causing damage over time.

Early Screening is Key

Children should be screened by an orthodontist first at age 7 to monitor the development of teeth, including the eyeteeth. By checking in early, you may be able to 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 area to ensure adequate space for canine development.

As you can see here, the treatment for impacted teeth gets more complicated as time goes on:

  • 11-12 year olds: At this stage, we are able to preemptively make space for the canines, ensuring a good chance for successful eruption.
  • 13-14 year olds: Even if we clear space for the canines, they will likely need to be “pulled down” into place with braces.
  • 15 years +: As time goes on, the impacted tooth will fuse into position and the only remedy will be extraction and restoration.
  • Complications of untreated impacted teeth include the loss of neighboring tooth roots and cystic lesions.

Exposure and Bracketing of an Impacted Cuspid

Impacted Canine Surgery

The surgery to expose impacted canines takes just about 45 minutes. It is a comfortable procedure that is done under local anesthesia. Mild swelling and soreness may occur for several days following, and can be managed adequately with over the counter pain medicines. During the surgery, the crown of the tooth is uncovered. Depending on the severity of impaction, we may attach a bracket and gold chain to the tooth to “pull” it into place, or we may simply apply a dressing and let it find its own way. It is important to maintain good dental hygiene as part of your home care practice. We will schedule a follow up appointment about a week after surgery to check on your healing with Dr. O'Shell, Dr. Vuu, Dr. Dauterive, Dr. Quirk or Dr. Garza.

Should you have any concerns about the status of your healing, please don’t hesitate to call Memorial Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at Houston Office Phone Number (713) 784-4200 office.