An impacted tooth is a tooth that has not broken through the gums. This condition is most commonly associated with wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth may remain in the gums causing no symptoms or side effects, however, in many cases, an impacted tooth can cause swelling and pain.

If your teeth fail to erupt properly, they can become impacted in your gums and jaw and increase your risk of developing an infection or other problem. While all teeth can become impacted, this condition is far more common in your canines. Dr. Darren Gonzalez provides treatments to help your impacted teeth erupt properly so that you can continue to enjoy a healthy smile. Call us today at 707-542-1532 to make an appointment with our dentist and learn more about impacted canines in Santa Rosa, California.

Causes of an Impacted Tooth

An impacted tooth may occur because of an overcrowded jaw or because the tooth is coming in at an odd angle and there is no room for the tooth to descend into the mouth.

Symptoms of an Impacted Tooth

In some cases, an impacted tooth will show no signs at all. Symptoms of an impacted tooth may include:

  • Bad breath
  • Painful gums
  • Swelling
  • Infection
  • Difficulty opening the mouth

Diagnosis of an Impacted Tooth

If a child is a regular patient of ours, we keep an eye on his or her teeth as they descend. That’s why a panoramic x-ray is so important with our younger patients. The American Dental Association recommends that children have a panoramic screening x-ray by age 7. This gives Dr. Gonzalez a map of all the child’s teeth, those in place and those still descending. When a tooth is late and begins to show signs of impaction, these will be easily identified on an x-ray.

Dr. Gonzalez will check for an impacted canine with these steps:

  •     He will check the position of the adjacent teeth
  •     He will feel the gum line outside the possible impacted tooth
  •     He will take and examine various x-rays we have at our Santa Rosa offices

Our diagnostic x-rays include panoramic and 3D cone beam technology. Dr. Gonzalez uses these resources to determine if a tooth is impacted and to weigh the effect it could be having on the adjacent teeth and the overall bite alignment.

When would an Impacted Canine need to be removed?

If possible, Dr. Gonzalez seeks to avoid extraction of these teeth. But there are some cases where extraction can be the best course of treatment. Extraction could be necessary if the tooth is fused to the bone and cannot be moved. It can also be necessary in cases of severe impaction where the tooth is going to affect the health of the surrounding teeth. The development of a cyst or tumor could also lead to extraction.

Treatment of an Impacted Tooth

Dr. Gonzalez has different options for treating an impacted canine. The goal is to bring the tooth into proper alignment with the other teeth. This may involve nothing more than removing some of the overlying gum tissue to help the natural eruption of the tooth. He may also remove a primary canine tooth to make room for the permanent canine to come through. These approaches simply create space for the impacted tooth to make its natural descent into proper position. This may be all that is needed.

But the tooth may need some help coming down. The most common treatment for an impacted canine is known as “exposure and bracketing.” Dr. Gonzalez may include an oral surgeon with these procedures. The first step is to open space for the impacted tooth to erupt. This is an in-office procedure with the patient under local anesthesia and nitrous oxide. The gum over the impacted tooth is lifted. This exposes the tooth. Dr. Gonzalez then cements an orthodontic bracket with a small gold chain to the exposed impacted tooth. The chain is attached to an orthodontic wire. The gum is sutured closed, although it may be left open in the roof of the mouth. 

In a few days, rubber bands are attached to the exposed chain from the impacted tooth. These rubber bands create a downward pulling force that begins to move the impacted tooth into its correct position. The process can take up to one year.

Patient Testimonial

“Excellent and invaluable initial assessment. I’m truly grateful to Dr. Gonzalez and his professional team. I am a new patient who feels like I’m in good hands!😊 I highly recommend Darren Gonzalez, DDS for your dental care needs. Many Thanks!!”

What happens if I leave an impacted tooth untreated?

Leaving an impacted canine, or any other tooth, untreated is a bad idea for several reasons. Impacted canines will usually place pressure on adjacent teeth and nerves. This can affect the position of those other teeth, and it can cause a good deal of pain with the nerve interaction.  

If left untreated, impacted canine teeth can fuse to the surrounding bone. If this happens, the tooth cannot be positioned to descend, and it will have to be extracted and replaced with a dental implant. 

There are also aesthetic issues, as the impacted canine will create a gap, or a smaller primary tooth will be in the space. Of course, if the impacted tooth affects other adjacent teeth, this will create an even larger aesthetic problem.

Finally, impacted canines left untreated will usually be prone to the development of either cysts or infection.

What happens after this type of Bracketing procedure?

Your child will have some slight bleeding from the sutured gums. The pain won’t be extreme and can be handled with over-the-counter options. We will provide you with cold compresses for the child to apply to the cheeks outside the area. They’ll need to eat a soft diet and avoid hard, chewy, or overly sharp foods. Dr. Gonzalez will see the child within a few days to make sure everything looks great as we start the process of bringing down the impacted tooth.

When should I contact Dr. Gonzalez about an Impacted Tooth?

If your child has the symptoms listed above, he or she could have an impacted canine tooth. This isn’t a time for a wait and see approach. Early intervention by Dr. Gonzalez can create the easiest path for getting the tooth to erupt and take its proper position in the child’s smile.

This also is why it is so important for your child to come see us for their regular twice-yearly cleaning and exams. When the child is due, these visits will include x-rays. These are critical for Dr. Gonzalez to keep an eye on tooth eruption or impaction.

Schedule A Client Consultation

If you are interested in learning more about Impacted Canines, Call us today at 707-509-0569 to learn more or schedule a consultation. Visit us in Santa Rosa, California, and make your appointment with our dentist.