When your teeth grow into your mouth, they naturally erupt through the gums into their designated position. But sometimes, a tooth will get stuck and does not properly emerge into its natural place. When a tooth does not emerge or only partially grows into the mouth, it is unable to erupt or said to be impacted.
The most common impacted teeth are the wisdom teeth, which are located in the far back of the mouth. But the canines, which are the pointy teeth in the front of the mouth, have the longest roots of any human teeth and they have a tendency to become impacted. Oftentimes, canines are referred to as the cornerstone of the dental arch.
The canines are crucial; they offer us the ability to bite into food, like tough meats, and play a very important role in the proper alignment of the rest of the teeth. We often rely on the canines to properly align the rest of our front teeth.
A tooth may become impacted for a variety of reasons, including
- Overcrowding of the teeth
- Failure of the tooth to follow the normal growth track of adjacent teeth
- The presence of extra teeth and/or lack of normal adult teeth
- Unusual growths blocking the tooth’s natural eruption
It is important to diagnose and treat any impacted teeth early. Early detection will help the patient to avoid any misalignment and the costly dental (or orthodontic) treatments that are needed as a result. To determine if a tooth is impacted, your dentist will perform a thorough oral exam to check for any signs of impaction, and this usually occurs at a young age, typically 11–12 years old. Any abnormality in the sequence of eruption may show the patient has an impacted tooth. If an impacted tooth is suspected, an X-ray will confirm its presence. At Fort Lauderdale Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we utilize a 3D Cone Beam scan to determine the best approach to expose the impacted tooth.
Exposure and Bonding
A common treatment for an impacted tooth is a procedure called exposure and bonding. This procedure is performed by both an orthodontist and an oral surgeon who work together to ensure the proper alignment of the rest of the teeth, and this allows a pathway for the impacted tooth to come in.
First, the orthodontist works to prepare the mouth by helping the fully grown teeth move into their correct position, which leaves room for the impacted tooth to move into its natural position. Next, the oral surgeon will expose the impacted tooth. This is done by lifting up the gum and removing the bone that covers the impacted tooth. Once the impacted tooth is exposed, the oral surgeon attaches an orthodontic bracket and chain to the tooth. Then the orthodontist steps in and uses the small chain attached to the bracket to gently pull the impacted tooth, which will move the tooth into its proper alignment within the mouth over time.
If you have an impacted tooth and have been recommended for an exposure and bonding procedure, we encourage you to contact our office in Fort Lauderdale, FL, to schedule an initial consultation with Dr. Hernandez.