What is an impacted tooth?
A tooth that does not fully grow in or only partially grows in is said to be impacted. The most common impacted teeth are the wisdom teeth in the back of the mouth and the canines, also known as a cuspid or an eyetooth, in the front of the mouth. Under normal circumstances, your teeth grow in by passing through the gums and emerging into their natural position, but sometimes, a tooth gets stuck and does not fully emerge.
A tooth may become impacted for a variety of reasons, including
- Overcrowding of the teeth
- The presence of extra teeth or the lack of normal adult teeth
- Unusual pathological growths blocking the tooth’s proper eruption
- Inability of the tooth to follow the normal growth track of adjacent teeth
The canine tooth plays a critical role in the dental arch and is extremely important to developing a proper bite. Because it is usually one of the last teeth to come into the mouth, it is essential to ensure that the canines have adequate space to develop and grow.
When do I need to seek treatment for my impacted tooth?
It is highly important to diagnose and treat any impacted canines early to avoid misalignment, which often results in costly dental or orthodontic treatments. The longer a patient waits for diagnosis and treatment, the less likely it is that the impacted tooth will erupt by nature’s forces alone once space has been made for growth. This can result in additional surgical or orthodontic treatments that could have been avoided otherwise.
Regular visits to your family dentist can assist in the early identification of an impacted tooth. If your tooth is deemed to be impacted or at risk of impaction, a qualified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and orthodontist are the best people to treat the problem.
What are my treatment options for impacted teeth?
One of the most common treatments for impacted canine teeth is exposure and bonding, during which your orthodontist and oral surgeon work hand in hand to properly align the rest of the teeth to enable the impacted tooth to come in. The orthodontist prepares the mouth by moving the fully grown teeth into their correct position in the mouth, leaving room for the impacted tooth to grow into its natural position. Next, the oral surgeon will expose the impacted tooth by pushing the gum tissue back and removing bone overlying the tooth. Then, the oral surgeon will attach an orthodontic bracket with a very small chain to the tooth. The orthodontist then uses the chain to pull gently on the impacted tooth and, over time, move the tooth into its proper alignment within the mouth. Occasionally, the orthodontic bracket and chain may need to be repositioned by the oral surgeon to allow complete movement of the impacted tooth.
If you are in need of exposure and bonding treatment for an impacted tooth, we encourage you to contact one of our offices in Billings, MT, or Cody or Sheridan, WY, to schedule an initial consultation. The highly skilled team at Billings Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center has many options for impacted tooth treatment and are happy to review your individual case to develop an effective treatment plan.