To make sure canines grow in properly, we can “expose and bond”

Dental development always comes with some basic pitfalls. The infamous “third molars,” also known as wisdom teeth, are notorious for becoming impacted instead of growing out properly. Many patients have to get their wisdom teeth removed for a wide array of reasons, but one main one being an impaction, which the causes the (sometimes urgent) need for their extraction.

Patients are less aware of another very common problem of impacted upper canines. But we have a solution: expose and bond.

The “eyetooth” or maxillary cuspid are the second most likely to become impacted after wisdom teeth.

While it’s true that wisdom teeth have little function and can be removed without experiencing any different in day-to-day function – making extraction the obvious procedure if they become impacted – upper canines are critical. They play a key role in everyday chewing and guide a person’s bite, allowing the upper jaw to close down like a lid over the lower jaw.

For this reason, the canines should be spared if at all possible. Their growth and development need to be watched closely from around age seven onward, as the mouth develops.

If it’s discovered that the canines are not developing properly, an initial treatment may be to apply braces to help make room for the canines to emerge from the gums and grow into place. But if that still doesn’t help the canines develop correctly, it’s likely an oral procedure will be needed, with help from the orthodontist, to perform the “expose and bond” procedure.

The procedure is pretty simple; the gum over the impacted tooth (or teeth) is lifted back to expose the canine beneath. A bracket is added to the canine and after a few days, the patient returns to the orthodontist who can slowly begin moving the canine by applying a light downward pull.

This expose and bond process is slow and steady. It can take a year or so before the canines establish and grow out to their proper place. But patience will pay off, thanks to the expert teamwork!

The patient’s mouth has a chance to develop a functional set of teeth that should last for the rest of their life.