The consequences of an untreated impacted canine tooth can cause significant dental problems and damage to otherwise healthy teeth, as well as to the surrounding tissue and bone.
Consequences of an Untreated Impacted Canine Tooth
As a consequence, impacted canine teeth often put pressure on adjacent teeth and nerves which can not only damage these structures, but cause intense tooth pain.
Upper canines tend to become impacted more often than lower canine teeth, and palatal (toward the palate) impactions occur more frequently than outward impactions. Canine tooth impaction is also affected by genetics (heredity), and typically affects only one side of the jaw.
Canine teeth that emerge unusually late typically erupt outward toward the cheek or inward toward the palate (ectopic), and these eruptions can also be the source of dental issues that need to be addressed. Early detection is key in the treatment of impacted canine teeth because, as the patient ages, the untreated impacted canine tooth can fuse to the surrounding bone, often leaving no alternative but to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant.
A less severe consequence of an impacted canine tooth is its appearance. When a canine tooth becomes impacted, its intended area of eruption is either left with the smaller primary tooth or a gap between the existing permanent teeth. In most cases, the aesthetics of the impacted canine tooth is an indication of more severe problems that can go undetected without further evaluation, including dental x-rays, and that may require impacted canine tooth surgery.
Resorption and Misalignment from Impacted Canine Teeth
Tooth root resorption is a normal process by which a permanent tooth replaces a primary tooth. The incoming tooth wears down (resorbs) the root of the tooth it will replace, allowing it to fall out. When a canine tooth becomes impacted, its positioning (the direction in which it is impacted) can contribute to additional dental problems.
A palatally impacted canine will not resorb the roots of the primary canine so the baby tooth will likely stay in place. The bigger problem, however, occurs if the malpositioned canine tooth begins to resorb, or eat away, the roots of an adjacent tooth, usually the permanent lateral incisor. If the impacted canine tooth is left untreated, the damage to the adjacent tooth can progress, leaving it unrestorable and vulnerable to tooth loss.
Adjacent teeth that can be damaged by an impacted canine tooth include:
- Maxillary lateral incisors (most common)
- Maxillary central incisors
- First premolars (rare)
Adjacent teeth not affected by resorption may still be pushed out of proper position from the pressure caused by the impacted canine tooth. This misalignment can cause a domino effect on the other permanent teeth, resulting in malocclusion (bad bite) and the need for orthodontic treatment.
Pathology (Cysts or Tumors) from Impacted Canine Teeth
An abnormal growth, usually a cyst or tumor, can form around an untreated impacted canine tooth. Formation of a cyst around the crown of the impacted canine can push adjacent teeth out of position. In some cases, these cysts can cause resorption of the alveolar bone. If the alveolar bone becomes too thin from resorption, a pathological fracture is possible, even when mild pressure is applied. Roots of the adjacent teeth can also suffer from these cystic changes cause by the impacted canine.
Dental cysts around an impacted canine tooth can:
- Become infected, causing swelling and pain
- Weaken the jaw through resorption
- Prevent normal dental function
- Place pressure on surrounding teeth and structures
- Require surgical removal
Tooth Decay and Wear from Impacted Canine Teeth
When a canine tooth becomes impacted, the entire mouth and its functionality can be affected. Because the canine teeth absorb much of the impact of chewing, an impacted canine can cause the remaining teeth to become prematurely worn due to the extra pressure placed upon them. Misalignment due to the impacted canine can also contribute to the premature wear of the other permanent teeth.
An untreated impacted canine tooth is susceptible to decay due to lack of dental hygiene. Once affected by caries (or cavities), the canine tooth can spread decay to neighboring teeth. If an impacted canine leaves a space in the mouth, food can become trapped in the crevice, creating an environment for bacteria to thrive and promote decay, as well. Periodontal disease then becomes a concern any time decay is a factor.
If you are concerned that your child may have an impacted canine tooth, contact our office to find out if an exposure and bracketing procedure is the solution for you. If you have an impacted canine that is seemingly harmless, an oral surgeon from our office can evaluate your condition to determine if any structural damage is occurring. Our goal at Pacific Oral Surgery is to provide the highest quality care using state-of-the-art technology to ensure that your treatment is as comfortable and successful as possible.
If you would like to arrange a consultation with a doctor at Pacific Oral Surgery, please submit an online appointment request or call one of our Pacific Oral Surgery offices located in Ventura, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley.
Our team of oral, maxillofacial and dental implant surgeons, Dr. James Jacobs and Dr. Sebastian Carlson, welcomes you to our Pacific Oral Surgery practice.