Impacted teeth are teeth that are stuck and cannot develop to function properly. Wisdom teeth are known for getting impacted in the back of the jaw, and causing pain and other problems. It has become common for people to get their wisdom teeth extracted, since there is rarely a functional need for them.
The second most common tooth that becomes impacted is the maxillary cuspid canine, or upper eye tooth. Unlike wisdom teeth, the cuspid tooth is critical in the dental arch, and important for your bite. They have the longest roots of any human teeth, and are used for chewing. They are essential since they are the first teeth that touch when your jaw closes, so the rest of your teeth fit into the proper bite.
The maxillary cuspid teeth are usually among the last of the frontal teeth to develop. Around the age of 13, they come into place, and close any space left between the upper front teeth. If one of the cuspid teeth becomes impacted, it is important to get it back into proper position in the dental arch.
Our oral surgery techniques for eruption can be used to move impacted teeth into the mouth, on either the top or the bottom of the jaw, but are typically used on the maxillary cuspid teeth. 60% of impacted eye teeth are on the palatal side (roof of the mouth) of the dental arch. The remaining 40% of impacted teeth are in the middle of the supporting bone, stuck in an elevated position above the roots of the adjacent teeth, on the facial side of the dental arch.
Early recognition is key for successful treatment of impacted teeth:
The earlier the detection of impacted teeth, the better the process will be. The older a patient is, the more likely it is that the impacted tooth will not erupt on its own. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that all dental patients get a panorex screening x-ray to count the teeth around the age of 7. This screening can help determine if there are problems with eruption of adult teeth.
Determining early on if all adult teeth are present is important. This exam can tell if there are extra teeth that are blocking eruption of the eye tooth, or if there is extreme crowding that can cause an eruption problem with the eye tooth.
If problems are identified, an orthodontist may use braces to open spaces for proper eruption of the adult teeth. The orthodontist may also require an oral surgeon to extract baby teeth, or problem adult teeth that are blocking eruption for the eye teeth. At Davis Oral Surgery, we can uncover impacted canines and place an attachment on the tooth to allow the orthodontic movement of impacted teeth into the mouth. If caught early enough, and an eruption path is cleared by the age of 11 or 12, chances are good that the impacted eye tooth can be moved into the mouth. Impacted teeth not moved into the mouth can be removed and replaced with dental implants.