Canine teeth. They’re fairly easy to distinguish if they’ve erupted. Simply put, they’re the pointed teeth on either side of your four front teeth, top and bottom. If it helps, they’re named “canine teeth” because their pointed shape and position look a little like dog fangs.
The function of canine teeth is important: in a normal bite, these four top and bottom teeth guide your jaws when they move, protecting the other teeth from coming in contact with each other. And canine teeth also help with tearing your food when you eat. As it happens, they are the most solid teeth in your mouth, able to handle significant forces — partly because they have the longest roots of all your teeth. You have canine teeth as both baby teeth and adult teeth. Canine teeth also have an aesthetic part to play. They act as corners to your smile, a transition between your thinner, flat-edge front teeth and your wider, squarer pre-molars and molars.
But what happens if your canine teeth don’t grown in properly, aligned with your other teeth? Or don’t erupt at all but, instead, stay inside your gums? At Okuda Orthodontics, we’ve had many patients who have issues with their canine teeth and want to get them fixed so they can enjoy a functional and well-aligned smile. Let’s talk about these issues in more detail and about what your Henderson, NV orthodontist, Dr. Okuda, can do to help.
Canine Teeth that Don’t Align: Ectopic Canine Teeth
It’s fairly common for adult canine teeth to erupt out-of-line with the rest of your teeth and is called an ectopic eruption of your canines. After all, they’re the last adult teeth to appear, and the space that’s left when the baby canines fall out might not be enough for the adult canines.
This lack of room can cause an ectopic canine tooth which is positioned one of these four ways:
- closer to your lip and “bump out” from your dental arch
- inside your dental arch, closer to your palate
- higher in your gums if in the upper arch
- lower in your gums if in the lower arch
Ectopic canine teeth can cause concern and it’s important to seek treatment of ectopic canine teeth. As we mentioned earlier, canine teeth play an important part in how well your teeth function together. Having ectopic canine teeth can mean that you can’t tear at food effectively, like biting into foods like bread, pizza, and meat. And misaligned canine teeth can also result in improper wear on the enamel of your other teeth because your jaws are not aligning properly when you eat.
Of course, we should also mention that having an ectopic eruption of your canines can also result in a less-than-confident smile. Or contribute to your self-esteem overall.
Canine Teeth that Don’t Erupt At All: Impacted Canines
Having ectopic canine teeth is easy to see since they’ve come out of the gums. But sometimes adult canines can’t erupt at all because their path is completely blocked by existing teeth. A tooth that’s prevented from erupting is called an “impacted canine tooth.”
Obviously, an impacted canine tooth isn’t visible when you smile, but an experienced orthodontist like Dr. Okuda can determine where your impacted canine tooth is sitting. Using digital xray technology and physical examination, your orthodontics team can see your impacted canine and determine how to address it with orthodontic treatment.
Like ectopic canines, fixing an impacted canine tooth is important for function and aesthetics, but also for health. An impacted canine tooth can cause medical problems like:
- lesions, cysts, or tumors in the gums
- abnormal wear on existing teeth
- resorption of the roots of teeth around it
- shifting of teeth
Treatment of Ectopic and Impacted Canine Teeth
At Okuda Orthodontics, our advanced solutions result in patients with functional, healthy smiles that look amazing. And we want to offer treatment in the most comfortable, least invasive ways possible. That’s why we specialize in ectopic and canine impaction treatment called non-extraction orthodontics.
What is non-extraction orthodontics? Non-extraction orthodontics means we don’t perform impacted canine surgery to completely take out your impacted canine teeth. Or rush to remove ectopic canine teeth, either. Instead, we use braces to both move your other teeth to make space for your canines as well as guide your misplaced canines into the right positions.
Now, to clarify, non-extraction orthodontics doesn’t mean non-surgical. Sometimes minor dental surgery is required to uncover an impacted tooth enough for a brace or small chain to attached to it. This surgery is quick — typically under general anesthesia and between half an hour to an hour. Then impacted canine tooth braces can be attached to begin the gradual movement of your canine tooth into alignment.
How long are braces worn for impacted canines? Most often, progress for an impacted canine tooth using braces takes about 2.5 years. Treatment of ectopic canine teeth can be less since the teeth have shorter to travel — even as little as six months. Once positioned, you can enjoy a well-aligned, functional, and healthy smile that you’re proud to show off for the rest of your life!
Address Your Canine Teeth With Your Non-Extraction Orthodontics Specialist
Whether you’re looking at treatment of ectopic canine teeth or want to find out more about canine impaction treatment, your Henderson, NV orthodontist can help you get your dream smile — without extractions!
Contact us today for a free consultation and start your custom smile transformation.