Expose & Bond in Falls Church VA

Impacted Canine Exposure

The canine teeth, also called the maxillary cuspids or “eyeteeth”, are typically the last front teeth to erupt in the mouth, usually around age 13. As with wisdom teeth, there is often not enough space for them to erupt, causing them to become impacted. However, unlike wisdom teeth, the canines are far too essential to good aesthetics and function in the mouth to simply extract – instead, we must “coax” them into position.

Aesthetics and Function

Your canines are vitally important to your smile and your bite:

  • Aesthetics: The canine teeth are the cornerstones of the arch. Without them, the smile sinks and the lips look thinner.
  • Function: The canines are extremely strong and have the longest roots of any teeth. Without them, other teeth in the mouth are forced to work unusually hard, causing damage over time. The cuspid tooth is a critical tooth in the dental arch and plays an important role in your bite. They are designed to be the first teeth that touch when your jaws close together so they guide the rest of the teeth into the proper bite.

Early Screening is Key

Children should be screened by an orthodontist first at age 7 to monitor the development of teeth, including the eyeteeth. By checking in early, you may be able to avoid extensive oral surgery down the road. If it seems likely that the canines are going to become impacted, we may be able to remove baby teeth in the area to ensure adequate space for canine development. As you can see here, the treatment for impacted teeth gets more complicated as time goes on:

  • 11-12 year olds: At this stage, we are able to preemptively make space for the canines, ensuring a good chance for successful eruption.
  • 13-14 year olds: Even if we clear space for the canines, they will likely need to be “pulled down” into place with braces.
  • 15 years +: As time goes on, the impacted tooth will fuse into position and the only remedy will be extraction and restoration.
  • Complications of untreated impacted teeth include the loss of neighboring tooth roots and cystic lesions.

Impacted Canine Surgery

For most patients, it is performed using laughing gas and local anesthesia. In selected cases, it will be performed under I.V. sedation if the patient desires to be asleep, but this is generally not necessary for this procedure.

Diagram of impacted canine surgery

The surgery to expose impacted canines takes just about 45 minutes. If the procedure only requires exposing the tooth with no bracketing, the time required will be shortened.

During the surgery, the crown of the tooth is uncovered. Depending on the severity of impaction, we may attach a bracket and gold chain to the tooth to “pull” it into place, or we may simply apply a dressing and let it find its own way. Since your canine teeth have the longest roots, it will take many months for the tooth to fully be guided into place.

After Surgery

You can expect a limited amount of bleeding from the surgical sites after surgery. Although there will be some discomfort after surgery at the surgical sites, most patients find Tylenol or Advil to be more than adequate to manage any pain they may have. Within 2-3 days after surgery, there is usually little need for any medication at all.

There may be some swelling from holding the lip up to visualize the surgical site; it can be minimized by applying ice packs to the lip for the afternoon after surgery. Bruising is not a common finding at all after these cases.

A soft, bland diet is recommended at first, but you may resume your normal diet as soon as you feel comfortable chewing. It is advised that you avoid sharp food items like crackers and chips as they will irritate the surgical site if they jab the wound during initial healing.

It is important to maintain good dental hygiene as part of your home care practice.

We will schedule a follow-up appointment about a week after surgery to check on your healing. Should you have any concerns about the status of your healing, please don’t hesitate to call Merrifield Oral Surgery at Merrifield Oral Surgery Phone Number 703-639-0027 office.

It is always recommended to come in for a consultation to discuss the best treatment with one of our doctor’s where they can go into more detail about the procedure and answer any questions you may have.