An impacted tooth is usually one that has grown and moved ‘off course’ from its ideal position. As a result the tooth does not erupt naturally.
In 35% of the population the wisdom teeth do not erupt due to lack of space or because they grow at an angle away from the gum surface. They are not removed unless they cause a problem.
In orthodontics, upper jaw (maxillary) canines are the most common teeth that require alignment due to impaction. This occurs in around 2% of the population. Usually, surgery is required to uncover the tooth and attach a gold chain to it. Then, braces are used to gently pull on the canine over many months, to bring it into the mouth.
Not all canines can or should be aligned. You will need a careful assessment by the orthodontist to help you decide what the best treatment option is for you.
X-ray of impacted adult canine (highlighted)
Examples of two gold chains attached to a tooth under the gum
In summary, the options for an impacted tooth are:
- orthodontically align the tooth
- extract any teeth obstructing eruption and review whether the tooth then erupts on its own
- leave the impacted tooth in the gum
- remove the impacted tooth to prevent damage to the roots of teeth close to it
If the adult tooth can’t be aligned it may be possible to build up and maintain the baby tooth for as long as possible.
All these options will be discussed with you in depth after your assessment.
Before impacted tooth alignment
After impacted tooth alignment