If you think impacted canine teeth in adults are unusual, this couldn’t be further from the truth. They’re actually the second-most commonly impacted teeth, with mandibular and maxillary molars being the most common. Impacted canines affect more than 1.9 percent of the entire population.

While impacted teeth are painful to live with, they can also cause a host of other issues. The longer you leave impacted teeth unattended, the more likely they are to cause these oral health issues.

Here are the tell-tale signs to look out for and the type of treatment you can expect.

Impacted Canine Teeth in Adults: What it Means 

Also called eye teeth, you can find your canines on either side of your two front teeth, on both the upper and lower jaw. With four canine teeth in the adult tooth lineup, they play an important role in allowing us to grip and bite our food properly, which aids in digestion.

Fun fact – the canine teeth have the longest roots out of all human teeth. They are also essential in guiding your mouth into a neutral position as you close your jaw, preventing major misalignment. Canine teeth make an appearance around the 16-20 month mark in children and are usually replaced by permanent canines between 9-12 years old.

So, what does it mean when you have impacted teeth? In short, it implies that your teeth are stuck and cannot erupt from the gum properly. This tends to be a common issue with molar and wisdom teeth, as well as the canines.

Since they play such an important role in your mouth, impacted canine teeth can lead to a host of oral issues if you don’t visit a dentist to resolve the problem.

Tell-Tale Signs of Impacted Canines 

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to identify an impacted canine tooth, but here are some of the most common symptoms that could point to an issue:

  • Aches and pains in the jaw, gums, or near neighboring teeth – sometimes this pain is continuous or it’ll come and go. It might feel worse when you bite down or chew. Pain severity ranges from mild to severe, depending on how impacted the teeth are
  • Swollen, tender gums – impacted teeth push against the gum tissue, causing irritation, inflammation, and redness
  • Halitosis – also known as bad breath. Impacted teeth tend to trap food particles and bacteria, even if you brush and floss regularly. This leads to infection in the gums and surrounding tooth decay
  • Pain or difficulty opening your mouth fully – due to the inflammation caused by impacted teeth, it might feel painful to open your mouth properly. This can impact the way you speak and eat
  • Persistent headaches – impacted teeth can push down on surrounding nerves in the jawline, leading to persistent, throbbing headaches. These headaches usually appear in the temples or the back of the head
  • Empty gum space – this might be the most obvious sign, but if you have empty spaces in your gum line, the most common cause is impacted teeth

It’s not normal to live with any of these symptoms which could very well point to an array of oral health issues, including impacted teeth. It’s always best to seek the help of a dentist as soon as possible before the issue gets worse.

Your Treatment Options 

The only way to determine whether you have impacted canine teeth is to visit a dentist who can inspect your mouth. In many cases, you’ll need an x-ray of your mouth to determine the severity of tooth impaction.

All cases of impacted teeth are different, so the type of treatment you need will depend on the state of your impacted teeth. Here are some common treatment options:

  • Orthodontics – you might need a set of braces or brackets to create space for the impacted tooth to descend. Braces or brackets also help guide the teeth into the correct position
  • Extraction of extra teeth – some people have a condition called hyperdontia, which results in the growth of extra teeth. In this case, you might need certain teeth removed to help your canines emerge properly
  • Oral surgery – this is an option when your canines are severely impacted and orthodontic treatment just isn’t efficient. Surgery helps to expose the adult tooth, then an oral surgeon uses a small bracket and chain to pull it into position

In some cases, an impacted canine fails to move into its natural position and might need extraction. This is where dental implants or a bridge help fill the gap after the removal of impacted teeth.

Pain Management and Prevention 

The pain caused by impacted teeth is different for everyone. Some might only experience mild discomfort, while others might have severe pain that makes speaking, eating, and drinking almost impossible.

It all depends on how impacted your canine teeth are. There are several ways to manage the pain and prevent impacted teeth from getting worse, too:

  • Over-the-counter pain medication such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol is a temporary way to manage pain until you can get yourself an appointment with a dentist
  • Simple home remedies such as a cold compress on the affected area, or a saltwater mouth rinse can help to reduce swelling and pain
  • Professional dental treatment – if you suspect you have impacted teeth, it’s vital that you schedule dental care as soon as possible

Bear in mind that regular dental visits, practicing good oral health by brushing and flossing, and addressing dental problems quickly are the best techniques to avoid serious issues from impacted teeth. You might even be able to completely avoid impacted teeth with these simple steps!

Get the Dental Support You Need

Legacy Oral and Facial Surgery are experts in all things oral health. Our team of board-certified oral surgeons is your go-to for just about any oral health issue – including impacted canine teeth in adults.

We are available to our patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and aim to provide an oral health solution, no matter your financial situation. If you need expert care for impacted canines, here’s what to expect from us.