An impaction is a “condition of being firmly lodged or wedged in such a way that further tooth eruption is prevented.” Canine teeth, in particular, are quite prone to becoming impacted. Usually the exact cause of an impacted tooth is not known. The guidance system of the developing tooth simply malfunctions and the tooth begins migrating in the wrong direction.
Canines are the most important teeth in guiding lateral jaw movements and are most resistant to tooth decay and gum disease. Because of their importance, we make every effort possible to bring an impacted canine tooth into position rather than extract it.
It is necessary to have an oral surgeon perform the surgical procedure required to uncover the impacted tooth and glue an attachment onto it. This is not something that is done in the orthodontic office.
Once your canine has been exposed you will continue to see the orthodontist for your regularly scheduled appointments. These appointments involve making adjustments to the chain/wire attached to the tooth so that it can slowly be brought into position. Regular x-rays will be taken to monitor the movement of the canine. It can take anywhere from 6-18 months for the impacted tooth to be brought into position.
Failure to redirect an impacted canine has serious consequences. If left untreated, the tooth can develop cysts around it, it may migrate and cause permanent damage to adjacent teeth or it simply may fuse to the bone and will not erupt regardless of technique used.
Exposing an impacted canine is relatively common surgical procedure with a very high success rate. Please feel free to ask the doctors any questions you may have regarding the procedure.