Some of us get our adult teeth on schedule, some early, some late, and some are left to wonder if a tooth or two might have gotten lost somewhere under their gums. When that happens, we call it an impacted tooth. It happens most often to wisdom teeth, but not always.
If there isn’t room for an adult tooth to erupt, it can remain partially or completely under the gums and may end up heading in the wrong direction altogether. Impacted wisdom teeth can become a problem for the roots of the neighboring molars. The reason they become impacted is usually that there isn’t room for them in the jaw. The solution for impacted wisdom teeth is extraction, but what about when other teeth are impacted?
The most likely teeth after wisdom teeth to become impacted are the upper canines or eyeteeth. This particular problem can even run in families. One or (less often) both of them could be impacted. Why the upper canines? It’s because the lateral incisors and the first premolars usually come in before they do, and if there’s a crowding problem, there might not be enough space left for the canines to erupt.
Impacted teeth aren’t just a problem because they haven’t joined their fellows as part of your charming smile; they can cause infections, gum disease, nerve damage, and cavities. Symptoms include a persistent bad taste or bad breath, tenderness and pain around the jaw, headaches, and swollen lymph nodes or gums. They also leave a visible gap where they should be erupting, and the baby tooth might never become loose on its own if it’s an impacted canine.
Adult canine teeth are important because they form the “corners” of our smiles. If one or both of them fails to erupt, it makes a big difference to a person’s appearance.
There isn’t much that can prevent tooth impaction, but it is very treatable. An impacted tooth can be discovered with dental X-rays. Impacted wisdom teeth can be extracted and impacted canines can be moved into their proper positions through a combination of oral surgery and orthodontic treatment. This is the kind of orthodontic issue that requires traditional braces to fix, as invisible aligners don’t have the same pulling power.
We highly recommend for anyone with an impacted upper canine to schedule a consultation. There’s no reason to leave that tooth trapped and out of sight forever when you could be showing it off in your smile. We look forward to developing your treatment plan to achieve the straight, complete smile you deserve!
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.