Patient Education: Impacted Canine

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Patient Education: Impacted Canine

What is an Impacted Canine?

An impacted canine is a tooth that has not erupted into the mouth and is stuck in the bone or gum. Canines are the pointed teeth located on either side of your front teeth. They are essential for biting and tearing food and play a significant role in the alignment and overall appearance of your smile.


Several factors can contribute to an impacted canine, including:

  • Genetics: Family history of impacted teeth.
  • Crowding: Lack of space in the dental arch for the tooth to erupt.
  • Abnormal Path: The tooth may follow an unusual path during development.
  • Delayed Eruption: Adjacent teeth or baby teeth not falling out in time.


Impacted canines can sometimes be asymptomatic, but they may cause:

  • Swelling: Gum swelling over the impacted area.
  • Pain or Discomfort: Discomfort or tenderness in the area.
  • Misalignment: Teeth may become crowded or shifted out of alignment.
  • Visible Gap: A noticeable gap where the tooth should be.


  • Dental Examination: A routine dental exam can reveal an impacted canine.
  • X-Rays: Panoramic or 3D imaging helps locate the exact position of the impacted tooth and assess the surrounding structures.

Treatment Options

  1. Monitoring: In some cases, especially in younger patients, the dentist may recommend waiting to see if the tooth will erupt naturally.
  2. Orthodontic Treatment:
    • Braces: Braces can create space and guide the impacted tooth into its proper position.
    • Exposure and Bonding: Surgically exposing the tooth and attaching an orthodontic bracket to gradually pull the tooth into place.
  3. Surgical Intervention:
    • Extraction: If the tooth cannot be saved, it may need to be removed surgically.
    • Exposure and Assistance: A minor surgical procedure to expose the tooth and help it erupt naturally or with orthodontic guidance.
  4. Tooth Replacement: If extraction is necessary, options like dental implants or bridges can replace the missing tooth.

Post-Treatment Care

  • Oral Hygiene: Maintain excellent oral hygiene with regular brushing and flossing to prevent infection and support healing.
  • Follow-Up Visits: Regular dental visits to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Diet: Follow your dentist's recommendations for a diet that supports oral health, particularly after surgery.


While not all impacted canines can be prevented, some measures can help:

  • Early Dental Visits: Regular dental check-ups from a young age to monitor the development of teeth.
  • Orthodontic Evaluations: Early assessment by an orthodontist (around age 7) can identify potential issues and address them before they become more serious.
  • Maintaining Oral Health: Keeping baby teeth healthy and allowing them to fall out naturally can help permanent teeth erupt correctly.

When to See Your Dentist

  • Persistent Pain: If you experience ongoing pain or discomfort.
  • Swelling or Infection: Any signs of infection, such as swelling, redness, or discharge.
  • Delayed Tooth Eruption: If you notice that a tooth has not erupted when expected.
  • Changes in Alignment: If you observe changes in the alignment of your teeth or bite.


Impacted canines can pose challenges but are manageable with early detection and appropriate treatment. Regular dental visits and proactive orthodontic care can significantly improve outcomes. If you suspect you or your child has an impacted canine, consult your dentist or orthodontist for an evaluation and personalized treatment plan.