Canines (cuspids) because of their long root are one of the strongest teeth in the entire dentition. During the development of our occlusion (bite) canines may fail to erupt into the dental arch because of tooth crowding or spacing disturbances. When a tooth is trapped under the bone or gum it is called an impaction. Most orthodontists and pediatric dentists make every effort to guide the canines to complete eruption because of the importance these teeth have in the development of a normal and functional occlusion (bite). The canine teeth can be impacted to the cheek side or more often trapped under the palate (roof of the mouth). These patients are often referred for a surgical procedure to allow eruption of these critical teeth. The procedure consists of making a small incision in the gums, identifying the impacted tooth and bonding an orthodontic bracket with attached chain on the tooth. A few weeks after surgery, the orthodontist will attach a small rubber band to the chain and will start pulling the tooth into the dental arch.
One of the key criteria for successfully moving an impacted canine into its proper position is early identification of the pending impaction. Impacted canines that are detected in late childhood or adolescence have a better chance of successfully erupting with surgical and orthodontic assistance. As the patient ages the prognosis for surgically assisting the eruption of impacted canines tends to decrease. You can expect that the postoperative course for these procedures to be similar to the simple removal of a tooth.
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