Exposure of Impacted Teeth

Exposure of Impacted Teeth


A tooth that is stuck beneath the gums, either partially or completely, is said to be impacted. While impaction can happen to any tooth, wisdom teeth and canines are the most susceptible.

While it is typically recommended to remove wisdom teeth, regardless of impaction, canine teeth serve an essential purpose to the mouth. If a canine tooth is impacted, oral surgeons and orthodontists will work hand in hand to expose the impacted tooth to allow it to come in correctly.


Canine Tooth Impaction


What are Canine teeth?

The canine teeth (known as the upper eye teeth or cuspid) are the long, pointed teeth on the top of the jaw either side of the front teeth. 

The last primary teeth to grow into the mouth are the canines, which typically come in around the age of 11 or 12.

They are very strong teeth – used for biting and play an important role in the structure of your bite arch. They are helpful for tearing food and guiding the alignment of the other teeth.


What causes an impacted canine tooth?

The most common causes of an impacted canine tooth is crowding in the jaw, or misalignment of other teeth. This results in insufficient space for the canine tooth to come through naturally.

 Canines are commonly affected by impaction for a few reasons:

  • Baby teeth not falling out in time

  • Unusual growths that block the tooth’s path

  • Lack of space in the mouth

  • Rarely, the presence of extra teeth that crowd the canines

Early Recognition of Impacted Canine teeth Is the Key to Successful Treatment

The older the patient the more likely an impacted eyetooth will not erupt by natural forces alone, even if the space is available for the tooth to fit in the dental arch. A panoramic x-ray, along with a dental examination, will help determine whether all the adult teeth are present or if some adult teeth are missing.

Treatment may require referral to an oral surgeon for extraction of over-retained baby teeth and/or selected adult teeth that are blocking the eruption of the all-important eyeteeth. The oral surgeon will also need to remove any extra teeth (supernumerary teeth) or growths that are blocking the eruption of any adult teeth.

Impacted tooth success by patient’s age:

  • 11-12 years old – with space opened for eruption, good chance for success.
  • 13-14 years old – the impacted eyetooth will not erupt by itself, even with the space cleared for its eruption.
  • Over 40 years old – much higher chance that the tooth will be fused in position. The only option is to extract the impacted tooth and replace it with a crown on a dental implant or a fixed bridge.

Impacted Canine Tooth Treatment

Exposing impacted canines as early as possible allows the teeth the best chance to grow in normally on their own. Regular checkups with your dentist can ensure that your child’s teeth are developing properly. Diagnosis of an impacted tooth can be confirmed through an X-ray or CT scan.

One of the first steps in treating an impacted canine tooth is to create more space for them to grow naturally. This is often done in collaboration with an oral surgeon and an orthodontist. In some cases treatment of impacted canines requires the extraction of teeth that are blocking the eruption of the impact canine tooth.


Exposing an Impacted Canine Tooth

To expose an impacted tooth, your orthodontist or general dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon. First, your orthodontist will work to move the surrounding teeth into position and create a space for the impacted tooth to be exposed. Then, your Oral Surgeon will gently remove any gum tissue or bone that may be in the way of the tooth to expose the tooth. Your Oral Surgeon will bond a small chain to the newly exposed tooth, and your orthodontist will use that chain to guide the canine carefully into position as it grows in.

In a simple surgical procedure, part of the gum will be removed up to expose the impacted canine tooth underneath. If there is a baby tooth present, it may be removed at the same time.

The surgery aims to uncover the crown of the impacted tooth so it can be pulled into place orthodontically.

Packing material is often placed during the healing period to stop the gum regrowing. If the tooth is left impacted there is a risk of resorption of the roots of the incisor teeth or cyst formation and infection.

Patients can expect the exposure of an impacted tooth to be a simple, in-office procedure performed with local anesthesia.


Follow Up

Patients return 1-2 weeks after surgery for a review of the exposure. Usually any remaining material or sutures can be removed at this review appointment.


Schedule a Teeth Examination

At BC Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, our Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon can perform an oral examination and x-rays of the mouth, to evaluate the position of the teeth and predict if there are present or may be future problems, whether your teeth are impacted, if there is room for them to erupt, and how difficult it will be to have them removed

Contact us today to arrange for a teeth examination to determine whether you may or may not require tooth removal or tooth exposure.


Schedule a Teeth Examination with our Oral Surgeon >