Impacted Canines

What is an Impacted Canine?

An impacted tooth simply means that it’s stuck beneath the bone or tissue and can’t erupt properly. When we talk about impacted teeth, the wisdom teeth, or third molars, are probably what come to mind first. While these are the most common, the maxillary cuspids (upper eye teeth or canine teeth) are the second most likely teeth to become impacted. Due to its important role, when a canine or cuspid tooth is impacted, it’s critical to help it erupt into its ideal place in the dental arch. At Knoxville Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we can work with your orthodontist in order to ensure your or your child’s all-important canines come in, making it possible to achieve a beautiful, healthy smile.

Early Evaluation is Key

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends kids have their first orthodontic evaluation at the age of 7. Not only does this allow the orthodontist to assess whether early intervention is necessary, they can also determine if your child’s permanent teeth are erupting according to plan or if some are missing.

If the orthodontist does identify an eruption issue, they can sometimes use dental braces to create space for all of the permanent teeth to come in properly. However, there are times when treatment might also require a referral to an Oral Surgeon like Dr. Eisenberg. In these cases, Dr. Eisenberg will use certain techniques to ensure impacted canine teeth are able to erupt.

If the problem is caught early on and the eruption path is cleared by a certain age, there’s a good chance that an impacted canine will come in with nature’s help. Waiting to deal with an impacted canine, on the other hand, can mean a more invasive procedure will be needed.

Benefits of Treating Impacted Canine Teeth

Allows the Canine Teeth to do Their Job

The maxillary canine teeth are essential for biting into food, as well as for the proper alignment of the rest of the teeth. Helping them erupt lets them serve these important roles.

Aids in Orthodontic Treatment

Exposing impacted canines allows your orthodontist to carry out their treatment plan with braces, Invisalign® or other appliances in order to give you straight teeth and a functional bite.

Prevents Complications

Treatment will prevent the problems related to impaction, such as pain and damage to bone, tissues and adjacent teeth, from occurring.

Treatment Considerations

The strategy for exposing impacted canines will depend on your situation, as well as your age. Often, treating the problem will involve:


If over-retained baby teeth or certain permanent teeth are blocking the canine teeth from erupting, Dr. Eisenberg may perform teeth extractions. She’ll numb the area with local anesthetic before gently removing the teeth that are in the way. She may also have to remove any growths or supernumerary teeth (extra teeth) that are interfering with the eruption of permanent teeth. With a clear path, impacted canine teeth in younger patients may erupt on their own without any further intervention.

Exposure & Bracket Placement

Sometimes, a procedure to expose and place a bracket on the impacted canine tooth will be needed to guide the tooth into its ideal place in the dental arch. In these cases, Dr. Eisenberg makes a small incision and lifts the gum tissue to expose the impacted tooth. She then bonds a bracket to the tooth. This bracket has a tiny, gold chain attached to it. With the bracket in place, Dr. Eisenberg temporarily attaches the chain to the braces archwire.

Dr. Eisenberg may leave the exposed and impacted tooth completely uncovered by suturing the gum high up above the tooth, or making a window in the gum covering the tooth. Most of the time, however, she’ll return the gum tissue to its original location and stitch it closed, leaving only the chain visible as it exits a small hole in the gum.

After the surgical procedure is complete, you’ll go back to your orthodontist. Your orthodontist will attach a rubber band to the chain. This provides a light, eruptive pulling force to slowly draw the impacted tooth out and move it into place. This carefully controlled process can take up to a full year.

Your Comfort is Our Top Priority

At our Knoxville, Tennessee oral surgery practice, we rely on cutting-edge technology and our in-depth experience to offer high quality care to patients of all ages in a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere. If you’re ready to maintain or restore your oral health and smile aesthetics, schedule a visit with us today!

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