A tooth that does not fully grow into the mouth or only partially grows into the mouth is said to be impacted. The most common impacted teeth are the wisdom teeth and the canines, also known as cuspids or an eyetooth. Under normal circumstances, your teeth pass through the gums and emerge into their natural position. But sometimes, a tooth gets stuck and does not fully break through the gums.

A tooth may become impacted for a variety of reasons, including

  • Overcrowding of the teeth in the mouth
  • The presence of extra teeth or the lack of normal adult teeth
  • Unusual pathological growths blocking the tooth’s proper eruption
  • Inability of the tooth to follow the normal growth track of adjacent teeth

The canine teeth play a critical role in the dental arch and are extremely important in developing a proper bite. Because they are usually the last teeth to come in, it is essential to ensure that the canines have adequate space to develop and grow.

When do I need to seek treatment for my impacted tooth?

It is highly important to diagnose and treat any impacted canines early to avoid misalignment, which often results in costly dental or orthodontic treatments. The longer a patient waits for diagnosis and treatment, the less likely it is that the impacted tooth will erupt by nature’s forces alone once space has been made for growth. This can result in additional surgical or orthodontic treatments that could have been avoided otherwise.

Regular visits to the general dentist can assist in the early identification of an impacted tooth. If your tooth is deemed to be impacted or at risk of impaction, the best person to treat the problem is an orthodontist or a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

What are my treatment options for impacted teeth?

One of the most common treatments for impacted canine teeth is exposure and bonding. During this procedure, your orthodontist and oral surgeon work hand in hand to align the rest of the teeth for the impacted tooth to come in. The orthodontist prepares the mouth by moving the fully grown teeth into their correct position, leaving room for the impacted tooth to grow into its natural position. Next, the oral surgeon will expose the impacted tooth by pushing the gum tissue back and removing bone overlying the tooth. Then, the oral surgeon will attach an orthodontic bracket with a very small chain to the tooth. The orthodontist then uses the chain to pull gently on the impacted tooth and, over time, move the tooth into its proper alignment within the arch. Occasionally, the orthodontic bracket and chain may need to be repositioned by the oral surgeon to allow complete movement of the impacted tooth.

If you are in need of an exposure and bonding treatment for an impacted tooth, we encourage you to contact our office to schedule an initial consultation. The highly skilled team at Union Square Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center in San Francisco, CA, has many options for impacted tooth treatment and is happy to review your individual case to develop an effective treatment plan.