Impacted Canines

Exposing Impacted Teeth as Part of Orthodontic Treatment

It is not uncommon for teeth other than wisdom teeth to be impacted or blocked from entering the mouth. Fortunately, your orthodontist and Dr. Barefoot can bring the impacted tooth through the gum and into the correct position – giving you a beautiful healthy smile.


The canine teeth are the slightly pointed teeth that sit on each side of the incisors at the front of your mouth. They get their name from their slight – if much shorter - resemblance to dog’s fangs. Some people also refer to them as ‘eye teeth’ since they sit vertically down from the eyes. Our canine teeth are just as important as any others we have, helping us to cut and tear our food up so that it can be efficiently chewed and swallowed. They also enable us to form sound properly and help guide our other teeth into the correct position for our jaw to close and to move side to side.

Adults should have four canine teeth, two in the upper and two in the lower jaws. Aside from wisdom teeth, they are typically among the last permanent teeth to erupt in the mouth, coming in between the ages of 11 and 13. However, just like other teeth, it is possible for the canines to become impacted. This is where they fail to grow in the correct position and are therefore held partially or fully below the gum line.

What are the consequences of impacted canines?

Tooth impaction of any kind can have significant consequences for the patient. Some of the problems that you could potentially experience if your canines become impacted include:

  • Pressure on adjacent teeth and nerves that could potentially damage them.

  • Pressure on adjacent teeth that could force them out of the proper alignment, causing further dental problems to develop such as malocclusion (a bad bite).

  • Premature wear on surrounding teeth.

  • Increased risk of decay and periodontal disease.

  • Increased risk of infection, which could potentially lead to soft tissue and bone loss.

  • Severe dental pain.

What can be done to treat impacted canines?

If you are suffering from one or more impacted canines, you will need to have treatment to resolve the problem. Failing to do so could put your other teeth and your oral and general health at risk. Depending on the extent of your impaction and your individual circumstances, you may have one of several options. These are:

Tooth Exposure: If your impacted canine is in the right place but purely impacted, you may be recommended to have it exposed so that it can push up into the right place. This involves a surgical procedure to remove some of the gum tissue and bone overlying the tooth. You will then need to wear a fixed orthodontic device for several years which will help ensure that the tooth stays in its new position.

To have the tooth removed and discarded: This tends to be recommended for those canine teeth that are in a poor position for orthodontic realignment or are causing problems for adjacent teeth. This involves exposing the tooth by making an incision in the gum, before extracting it. A local anesthetic with sedation, or potentially a general anesthetic, will be recommended. A tooth replacement solution such as a bridge or dental implant will be suggested to replace the missing tooth.

If you have concerns that you might have an impacted canine and would like to arrange an appointment to speak to our experienced and skilled oral surgeons please contact our offices in Mount Pleasant, SC today by calling 843-321-4300.