An impacted tooth is a tooth trapped beneath the surface of the gums, preventing it from “erupting.” Patients frequently develop problems when these teeth get “stuck” or press against other teeth, causing alignment issues and sometimes infections.
If a cuspid tooth becomes impacted, we attempt to allow it to erupt into its proper position in the dental arch. Each case must be evaluated on an individual basis, but treatment will usually involve a combined effort between the orthodontist and the oral surgeon. The most common scenario will call for the orthodontist to place braces on the teeth (at least the upper arch). A space will be opened to provide room for the impacted tooth to be moved into its proper position in the dental arch. If the baby eyetooth has not fallen out already, it is usually left in place until the space for the adult eyetooth is ready. Once the space is ready, the orthodontist will refer the patient to the oral surgeon to have the impacted eyetooth exposed and bracketed.
Recent studies have revealed that with early identification of impacted eyeteeth (or any other impacted tooth other than wisdom teeth), treatment should be initiated at a younger age. Once the general dentist or hygienist identifies a potential eruption problem, the patient should be referred to the orthodontist for early evaluation. In some cases, the patient will be sent to the oral surgeon before braces are even applied to the teeth.