Unerupted ectopic canines represent a prevalent orthodontic concern frequently encountered. Approximately 1-3% of individuals grapple with ectopic permanent canines, characterized by their misplacement. Typically, these canines are situated on the inner (palatal) aspect amidst the other erupted teeth. This misalignment poses both functional and aesthetic challenges, necessitating careful orthodontic treatment to ensure optimal dental health and alignment.

Canine teeth are fairly easy to distinguish once they’ve erupted; they are the pointed teeth on either side of your four front teeth, both top and bottom. Named “canine teeth” due to their resemblance to dog fangs, these teeth play a crucial role in dental function.
In a normal bite, the four upper and lower canine teeth guide your jaws during movement, protecting the other teeth from direct contact. Additionally, they assist in tearing food and are the most robust teeth in your mouth, capable of handling significant forces thanks to their long roots.

You have canine teeth as both baby and adult teeth, and they contribute aesthetically to your smile by creating a smooth transition from the thinner, flat-edged front teeth to the wider, squarer pre-molars and molars. However, problems can arise if your canine teeth don’t align properly with the rest of your teeth or fail to erupt, remaining inside your gums.

Addressing Ectopic Canine Teeth:

Misalignment Issues and Solutions It’s fairly common for adult canine teeth to erupt out of alignment with the rest of your teeth, a condition known as ectopic eruption of canines. Since canines are the last adult teeth to appear, the space left after the baby canines fall out might not be sufficient for the adult canines to erupt properly. This lack of room can cause an ectopic canine tooth, which may be positioned in one of four ways:
  • Closer to your lip, causing it to “bump out” from your dental arch.
  • Inside your dental arch, closer to your palate.
  • Higher in your gums if in the upper arch.
  • Lower in your gums if in the lower arch.
Ectopic canine teeth can lead to several issues, making it important to seek treatment. Misaligned canine teeth can impair your ability to tear food effectively, making it difficult to bite into items like bread, pizza, and meat. Additionally, improperly aligned canine teeth can cause uneven wear on the enamel of your other teeth because your jaws are not aligning correctly when you eat.

Addressing Impacted Canine Teeth: Detection and Treatment

While ectopic canine teeth are visible since they’ve emerged from the gums, sometimes adult canines can’t erupt at all due to being blocked by existing teeth. This condition is known as an “impacted canine tooth.”
Although an impacted canine tooth isn’t visible when you smile, an experienced orthodontist can determine its location. Using digital X-ray technology and physical examination, our orthodontic experts can identify the position of the impacted canine and suggest an appropriate treatment plan.
An untreated impacted canine can lead to several medical issues, such as:

  • Lesions, cysts, or tumors in the gums.
  • Abnormal wear on existing teeth.
  • Resorption of the roots of surrounding teeth.
  • Shifting of adjacent teeth.

Treating Ectopic Canines Teeth: Extraction Of The Ectopic Tooth

One direct treatment option for ectopic canines is extraction without accompanying orthodontic treatment. This approach might be suitable for individuals who are averse to orthodontic interventions or who have significant overcrowding. However, it’s important to consider the potential aesthetic consequences, such as a shift in the upper dental midline, which occurred in a case where the upper right canine was extracted.
Simple extraction therapy is only aesthetically acceptable if the remaining teeth are already well-aligned and if tooth replacement or substitution is feasible. While this method can resolve immediate issues, careful evaluation is necessary to ensure it doesn’t compromise the overall appearance and function of the smile.

Surgical Exposure and Orthodontic Traction of Ectopic Canine Teeth

For more severely displaced canine teeth, a combination of surgical exposure and orthodontic traction is required. Simply creating space is insufficient in these cases. The treatment involves a minor surgical procedure where an attachment, such as a bracket, is glued to the buried tooth. This allows orthodontists to gently pull the ectopic tooth into its proper position using braces.

Treatment of Ectopic Canine Teeth: Extraction and Space Closure

In certain cases, it may be preferable to extract the ectopic tooth and close the space rather than attempt to reposition it. This approach is especially viable when the ectopic tooth is unfavorably positioned and its incorporation into the arch would require the extraction of other teeth to create the necessary space.

For instance, in a case involving an ectopic upper right canine (13) and a lateral incisor (12) in crossbite, extraction and subsequent space closure might be the most efficient and aesthetically acceptable solution. This method helps in achieving a harmonious dental alignment without the need for extensive orthodontic adjustments.

In summary, ectopic canines are a common issue in children, often detectable around 9-10 years of age. Their occurrence is heightened in cases with a family history of the condition or when patients exhibit small or absent lateral incisors.
Timely intervention through interceptive orthodontics can sometimes successfully correct the position of ectopic canines. However, even when interceptive measures aren’t feasible, prompt diagnosis remains crucial for achieving the best possible outcome and minimizing potential damage to adjacent teeth.
At Specialty Plano Top Dental, we use cutting-edge technology to provide top-notch orthodontic treatment at affordable prices. Our spacious clinic offers a comfortable environment, ensuring a pleasant experience for our patients.