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Canines are the pointy corner teeth, often known as “fangs”. Humans have four: two in each upper and lower jaw. An impacted tooth is when it fails to grow in the correct position, and has been blocked from breaking through the gum. Often, they have no symptoms during the growth period and are only picked up during X-Rays. Because they occur during the growth period, you might become aware of the issue of impacted canines when your child loses his or her baby teeth.

If you are worried that your child has an impacted canine tooth, you might not be too sure what the next steps are. Will the situation sort itself out naturally? Don’t worry. Your child’s dentist will talk you through the various options, which depend on the severity of the situation. So, what causes an impacted canine tooth, and what are the options for treatment?


There might be various reasons for having an impacted canine tooth. Sometimes it occurs from overcrowding, where the teeth do not fit correctly. Therefore the canine is unable to penetrate the surface of the gum. Some people have extra teeth, which causes this problem. Unusual growths on the surface of the gums can also cause an impacted canine tooth, as it is unable to grow through the soft tissue of the gum.


Whilst some impacted canines can be left buried and cause no problems, in some situations your child’s dentist might worry that the tooth will cause problems with the alignment and growth of other teeth. If this is the case, they will most likely get the tooth removed. If there’s a gap where the canine tooth should be, they may use a false tooth of some kind (a denture or bridge).

Exposed before orthodontic treatment

If a part of the impacted canine tooth is exposed and has made its way through the gum, an orthodontist will be able to align it with the other teeth. This can be quite a long process, and your child will need to agree to wearing a brace for at least two years.

The process also involves a small operation in the roof of the mouth, which is often performed under general anaesthesia. During the procedure, some gum and bone overlying the tooth is removed so that the crown of the tooth is exposed. If your child has overcrowding in their mouth, a few more teeth may need to be removed. It entirely depends on the situation.


If the tooth is in a position where it cannot be forced out and aligned with the other teeth, it can still be forced into a different position – for example between other teeth. This also involves an operation, as the tooth will need to be removed and replaced in the correct position. Sometimes this option isn’t successful, as the transplanted tooth does not perform as it should and therefore needs to be removed anyway.

If you’re worried about having impacted canine teeth, book an appointment with your dentist straight away.