An impacted tooth is simply a tooth that is “stuck” in the jaw and has not “erupted” into a position that is functional. Besides the wisdom teeth, the next most common teeth to be impacted are the maxillary cuspids (upper eye teeth, canines). These teeth are important for a proper bite. They are very strong biting teeth and have the longest roots of all the teeth. They are the first teeth to touch when the jaw closes, guiding all the other teeth into a proper bite.
The canines are normally the last front teeth to erupt into place. This usually happens around age 13, causing any space between the upper front teeth to close. When these teeth are impacted, they can be stuck in the dental arch of the roof of the mouth, or in an elevated position above the roots of the adjacent teeth or in the dental arch on the facial side.
The older a person gets, the likelihood of the canines erupting normally decreases. The treating orthodontist may at this point make a referral to Dr. Truitt to surgically access the canines to aid in their eruption. The orthodontist and Dr. Truitt will combine efforts to achieve this. The orthodontist will usually place braces on the upper teeth and then Dr. Truitt will perform a simple surgical procedure to lift the gum off of the impacted tooth to expose it. Then he will bond an orthodontic bracket to the tooth and attach a tiny chain to it. Shortly after surgery the orthodontist will then use the chain to begin applying a pulling force on the tooth that will eventually bring it into the proper position. This is a very carefully controlled process that can take up to a year to complete.
Individual needs and circumstances vary widely, and an oral exam and discussion with Dr. Truitt prior to any scheduled surgery is very important. Medical history and anesthesia options will also be discussed at the consultation appointment.