When one or more teeth fails to grow in the correct position and is therefore held below the normal gum line, it is called an impaction. This can be complete, such as completely unerrupted (buried) third molars (wisdom teeth) or partial when just part of the tooth is visible in the mouth.
Sometimes, because of the way teeth grow in the jaws and gums, one or both canine teeth develop in the wrong position for normal appearance or function. For example, they might erupt in the wrong position or not at all. Dentists and orthodontists usually detect a problem with the canine teeth in children around the ages of 10-14 years, which is a time when they will recommend treatment.
There are several options for the surgical treatment of impacted canines. Your dentist will explain the options for you which might include: Removed and discarded – This can be the treatment of choice if the buried tooth is in a poor position for orthodontic re-alignment, or shows signs of causing problems to adjacent teeth.
Exposed before orthodontic treatment – If part of the tooth is exposed to the mouth it can allow an orthodontist to move it into correct alignment. This can be an option only if the buried tooth is in a reasonable alignment and the patient is prepared to wear an orthodontic fixed appliance for at least two years.
The exposure of the tooth involves a small operation in the palate of the mouth, which is often performed under general anaesthesia. During this operation, some gum and bone overlying the tooth is removed so that the crown of the tooth is exposed. Sometimes, other teeth will need to be extracted to make space for the canine.