Contrary to what many people believe, impaction is not a problem just limited to wisdom teeth. The second most commonly-impacted tooth is the maxillary canine. However, while wisdom teeth have no functional need and can be removed with virtually no impact on the patient, the canine teeth present a far greater obstacle.
Why are impacted canine teeth a problem?
The canine tooth is exceptionally strong and a vital part of the dental arch. They are also vital to the way in which your upper and lower teeth come together to form your bite. Canines are designed to be the first teeth that touch when you close your jaw, guiding the rest of your teeth into the correct bite.
As such, extracting impacted canines should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. At Syracuse Oral Surgery, we will take every measure possible to get your tooth to erupt into the correct position in the arch, so that the correct bite can be assumed.
Bite position is an important element of your dental care, as teeth that do not meet properly when closed can cause problems, like excessive pressure and wear on your teeth, and a condition that affects the jaw known as temporomandibular disorder or TMD.
Causes of impacted canines
Impacted canines can be caused by a number of things, most commonly:
Tooth overcrowding. If there are too many teeth in the arch, there may not be space for the canines to erupt properly or at all.
Unusual growths. Sometimes a patient may have unusual growths on the soft tissue of their gums. This can inhibit the progress and impaction of canine teeth.
By attending your regularly scheduled dental check-ups, your dentist has the best chance of identifying if you may have problems with canine impaction in the future.
Symptoms of impacted canines
Impacted canines typically cause one or more of the following symptoms:
Redness and swelling in the gums around the impacted tooth
A visible gap where the tooth has failed to erupt
Pain or tenderness of the gums, mouth or jaw
Prolonged headache or jaw ache
An unpleasant taste in the mouth
The patient may also find it difficult to open and close their jaw, and in rare cases, may experience swollen lymph nodes in their neck.
Treating impacted canines
In children who have an impacted canine, sometimes simply removing the baby tooth creates enough space for the adult canine to drop into place. Alternatively, if your impaction is a result of tooth overcrowding, your surgeon may discuss extracting some of the additional teeth to make space for your canines. However, if either of these do not work, surgical intervention may be necessary.
Surgical exposure of canine teeth is always performed under anesthesia. This means that you will be relaxed and in little pain for the duration of the procedure. Once you are anesthetized, your surgeon will remove a small area of gum and bone to reveal the impacted canine beneath.
The next stage of treatment involves gluing an orthodontic bracket to the teeth. Attached to this is a small length of gold chain, which can be secured to the gum using a stitch, or one of your teeth. This will help guide your impacted canine into the correct position.
Caring for your teeth after canine impaction surgery
When your anesthesia wears off, you will be in some discomfort, and will probably require pain relief medication. Swelling both inside and outside the mouth is completely normal and expected. This will begin to subside within a day or two of your procedure, but could last for up to a week.
Your surgeon will give you specific advice to follow during your recovery, and this should be strictly adhered to, if you are to get the best possible result from your canine impaction surgery.
If you are suffering from impacted canines, our experienced and compassionate surgeons would be delighted to help you. Patient care is our priority, and we are dedicated to continuing to provide an outstanding service to our satisfied clientele.
If you would like to know more about impacted canines, or would like to arrange an appointment at one of our modern and welcoming offices, call Syracuse Oral Surgery today.