An impacted canine is an upper maxillary tooth that fails to erupt in the appropriate position. Maxillary canine teeth are the second most frequent teeth to become impacted after wisdom teeth (third molars). Canine teeth are sometimes referred to as cuspid teeth or eyeteeth because of their direct positioning beneath your eyes. An estimated 1 to 2.5% of people worldwide experience impacted canine teeth. Although wisdom tooth extraction is advised nearly all the time because these teeth aren’t necessary for dental function, maxillary canine teeth play an important role in function and smile aesthetics. As a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. R Jonas Collins has vast expertise extracting teeth and treating impacted canines in Charlottesville and Waynesboro, VA.
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all patients receive a panoramic x-ray and dental examination by age 7. This is done to count teeth, see if any adult teeth are missing, and determine if any problems may arise when it comes time for adult teeth to erupt. This exam is usually performed by a general dentist or hygienist, but your child will be referred to an oral surgeon and or orthodontist if a problem is identified.
If no teeth are crowded, the impacted canine tooth may be able to erupt spontaneously, so a wait and monitor approach is recommended. When the eruption path is cleared and the space is opened up by ages 11-12, this increases the chance that the impacted canine will erupt. If the canine is allowed to develop under the surface extensively by ages 13-14, the impacted canine won’t erupt on its own, even with space cleared. When a patient is older than age 40, there is a high likelihood the canine tooth is fused in position. In such cases, the tooth won’t budge despite orthodontic and oral surgery methods. The only option at this point is to extract the impacted tooth and replace it with a dental implant or fixed bridge.
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