As our jaws develop as we age, the process can sometimes be interrupted by an impacted tooth. This occurs when a canine gets stuck and cannot break through into its socket, and if left untreated, it can cause discomfort or even functionality problems with eating food properly. At Carolinas Centers for Oral & Facial Surgery, our oral and maxillofacial surgeons specialize in solving these dental challenges using advanced treatment techniques. If you have impacted canines, our doctors are here to help.
Reasons for Impaction
Dental crowding is the most common reason for impaction: when there are too many teeth in one area of the mouth, a new tooth is unable to erupt into its proper position. Sometimes, a growth or tumor may be blocking a new tooth’s path.
An impacted tooth is easily diagnosable with an X-ray or 3D imaging. It is usually discovered at a dental visit, and your dentist can refer you to an oral surgeon for further treatment. Therefore, it is very important to see your dentist every 6 months for regular checkups.
Impaction may or may not have noticeable symptoms, but signs include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Tenderness around the tooth site
- Bad breath
- Jaw pain
Exposure and Bonding
Exposure and bonding is a treatment that involves skilled coordination between an oral surgeon and an orthodontist. First, an orthodontist will create a space for the impacted tooth to come in by preparing the mouth with braces. Once the space is ready, an oral surgeon will expose the tooth and bond an orthodontic bracket to it. The orthodontic bracket will have a small chain attached that the orthodontist will use to guide the tooth into place as it grows in.
Patients are kept comfortable during the surgical procedure with anesthesia. The type of anesthesia used, as well as specific details of the procedure, will be discussed during the consultation appointment. Oral surgeons receive specialized training to safely administer anesthesia.
There are three main choices for anesthesia
Local anesthesia provides numbness directly where it is administered. It does not affect consciousness, so the patient remains awake while the feelings of discomfort are eliminated. Local anesthesia is commonly used for minor procedures.
Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild sedative that the patient inhales to alleviate feelings of anxiety. It does not cause the patient to lose consciousness. It is often used together with local anesthesia.
IV sedation is commonly used for moderate to extensive oral or facial surgery procedures. This type of sedation is administered directly into the patient’s vein. Since amnesia (forgetfulness) is a common side effect of the medication, most patients who use IV sedation do not remember their procedure.
Comfort and Recovery After Your Treatment
You may experience some bleeding, swelling, discomfort, and soreness following surgery. While your surgeon will provide you with a more definitive list of postoperative instructions, you will likely need to:
- Keep gauze on the treated site until it stops bleeding
- Avoid vigorous mouth washing
- Avoid touching the treated site
- Take your prescribed pain medication to alleviate any discomfort
- Use ice packs to reduce swelling
- Avoid using a straw
- Keep the mouth clean
Additionally, our team will provide instructions on what you should eat and drink. Generally, for two to three days after your procedure, it is best to eat softer foods and avoid very hot, crunchy, or hard food, as well as any food that may get stuck in the surgical site.
Your surgeon’s list of postoperative instructions is crucial for preventing unnecessary complications, so we urge you to follow them carefully. If you have any further questions, consult with your doctor.
We’re Here For You
Our oral surgeons are passionate about helping patients restore and maintain their dental health through custom treatment plans. If you have an impacted canine, schedule a consultation with us today at (910) 725-1403. At Carolinas Centers of Oral & Facial Surgery, your comfort is our priority.