Your teeth grow into your mouth by erupting through the gums into their natural position. Sometimes, a tooth gets stuck and does not properly emerge. When a tooth does not emerge or only partially grows into the mouth, it is said to be impacted, or unerupted. The most common impacted teeth are the wisdom teeth and the canines. The canines, which are the pointy teeth in the front of the mouth, have the longest roots of any human teeth, often called the cornerstone of the dental arch. They are very important in our ability to bite into items, like tough meats, and play a critical role in the proper alignment of the rest of the teeth. They are usually the last of the front teeth to develop; therefore, we often rely on them to properly align the rest of our front teeth.
A tooth may become impacted for a variety of reasons, including
- Inability of the tooth to follow the normal growth track of adjacent teeth
- Overcrowding of the teeth in the mouth
- The presence of extra teeth or the lack of normal adult teeth
- Unusual growths blocking the tooth’s proper eruption
It is important to diagnose and treat any impacted teeth early to avoid misalignment and the costly dental or orthodontic treatments that are needed as a result. To determine if a tooth is impacted, your doctor will perform a thorough oral exam and check for proper order of eruption of your teeth at a young age, usually 11–12 years old. Any abnormality in the sequence of eruption may indicate an impacted tooth. If an impacted tooth is suspected, an X-ray will confirm its presence and may require a 3D Cone Beam scan to determine the best approach to expose the tooth.
Exposure and Bonding
One of the most common treatments for impacted teeth is exposure and bonding. During these procedures, the orthodontist and the oral surgeon work hand in hand to properly align the rest of the teeth for the impacted tooth to come in. First, the orthodontist prepares the mouth by moving the fully grown teeth into their correct position, leaving room for the impacted tooth to be moved into its natural position. Then, the oral surgeon will expose the impacted tooth by lifting up the gum and removing the bone that is covering the impacted tooth. Once exposed, the oral surgeon attaches an orthodontic bracket and chain to the impacted tooth. The orthodontist then uses this small chain attached to the bracket to gently pull the impacted tooth and, over time, move the tooth into its proper alignment. If you have an impacted tooth and are in need of an exposure and bonding treatment, we encourage you to contact our office in Houston, TX, to schedule an initial consultation. Dr. Cohen looks forward to caring for you in our state-of-the-art surgical facility.
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