Ever wonder why one or more of your child’s teeth haven’t come into the mouth yet? There is a range of normal dental development that doesn’t have much to do with a child’s physical development otherwise. (Medical syndromes do exist that greatly affect dental development, but they are very rare.) If a tooth hasn’t come into the mouth within the typical age range for that given tooth, it may be impacted.
“Can’t I just wait longer for it to come in? Maybe my teeth are just slow!” Sound familiar? We hear patients say this all the time. Unfortunately, some teeth will never come in without assistance from an orthodontist!
When teeth are forming, they sometimes develop and grow in a direction that’s severely deviated from a normal path. Therefore, in teeth that replace an existing baby tooth (front teeth, canines, and premolars), the baby tooth won’t be lost because the developing permanent tooth isn’t resorbing the baby tooth’s root.
The most commonly impacted teeth are the wisdom teeth, which is typically due to a lack of space in the back of our jaws or their eruption path being at an angle. After wisdom teeth, the upper canines are most frequently impacted. Most children have their upper canine teeth come in between 11-12 years old, so orthodontists can’t usually say for certain that a canine is impacted before that time. However, the angle of the developing tooth can give a pretty good indication of whether the canine is at risk for being impacted. Upper canines can be impacted towards the outside of where the dental arch is or, more commonly, within the palate.
If a tooth is impacted a minor surgical procedure is required to expose it from under the gums and bone. This can be done by a periodontist or an oral surgeon. At the end of the procedure your surgeon will bond a button with a chain on it that your orthodontist will use to slowly pull the tooth down. Depending on the angle and position of the tooth, it can take quite a long time to bring down!
Ask Doctors Abdoney and Cronauer if the loss of your child’s baby teeth and the eruption of their permanent teeth is normal and if any future impactions could be expected.