Identifying Impacted Canines

Impacted Canines

Impacted canines are unfortunately a common occurrence in dentistry. Next to the wisdom teeth, the upper canines are the most commonly impacted teeth in the human mouth, with one in every fifty people experiencing problems with this tooth. Impacted lower canines are less common, with only one in 100 people affected. Although it is possible to treat adults for this condition, and our Carmichael dentists strongly recommend the procedure, it is easiest to fix impacted canines when they are first diagnosed around the age of eleven or twelve, or even earlier.

Early Diagnosis Offers Simpler Procedures

If a child has regularly visited the Marconi Dental Group during their childhood and teenage years, annual x-rays will have kept track of the progress of their permanent teeth. The permanent teeth are visible in the jaw before they erupt, and any displacement is readily noticed in advance.

There are also factors based on oral observations that identify this complication. Any of the following symptoms point to an impacted canine:

  • A bulge in the palate near the spot in the jaw where the canine should be;
  • Delayed eruption or displacement of the nearest incisor (front tooth);
  • At 14-15 years, the canine has still not erupted.

These clues, along with x-rays, confirm the diagnosis of an impacted canine. The x-rays, however, are the most useful tool for early diagnosis, as we will see.

Treating Impacted Canines

If recognized in childhood due to x-rays, treatment can begin even at the age of eight or nine years of age. In this case, the primary canine is extracted early, so that the impacted canine shifts into the new empty space. Although this is the easiest treatment, this method does not work with all impactions.

In some cases the permanent canine cannot be saved and the nearby premolar is shifted with orthodontics to compensate. Another option when the tooth is lost is to replace the missing canine with a bridge, or preferably a dental implant.

The best treatment method for impacted canines is revealing the canine through oral surgery and then lowering it into place with orthodontics. This provides the most natural long-term fix and saves a tooth that would otherwise be lost.

Simply leaving the impacted canine in place is not a good idea. Over the long term, it is likely to damage the nearby teeth and the jawbone or palate. To emphasize, early diagnosis is the easiest way to avoid complicated procedures later. Visiting the Marconi Dental Group every six months as a child helps guarantee that the canines erupt successfully and the mouth stays healthy.

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