An impacted tooth simply means that it is “stuck” and cannot erupt (break through the gums) into proper position or function like normal teeth. Patients frequently develop problems with impacted third molar (wisdom) teeth, which are the most commonly impacted teeth, as described in ‘Wisdom Teeth’ under the Oral & Maxillofacial Services Tab.Any tooth can be impacted. Possible causes of impaction include abnormal tooth size and position, delayed development, inadequate size of the jaws, other teeth getting in the way, or even cysts or tumours preventing proper eruption. Impacted teeth can cause many problems, such as damage to other teeth, infections, pain, orthodontic tooth alignment problems, and even cysts or tumours. This is described in greater detail in the Wisdom Teeth section of the website.The maxillary cuspid (upper eye tooth), or “canine” is the second most common tooth to become impacted. The cuspid tooth is a critical tooth in the dental arch and plays an important role in your “bite”. These teeth are very strong biting and tearing teeth and have the longest roots of any human teeth. They are designed to be the first teeth that touch when your jaws close together so they guide the rest of the teeth into the proper bite.
Normally, the maxillary cuspid teeth are the last of the front teeth to erupt. They usually come into final position around age 13 and cause any space left between the upper front teeth to close tighter together. If a cuspid tooth becomes impacted, every effort is made to help it erupt into its proper position in the dental arch. The techniques involved to aid eruption can be applied to any impacted tooth in the upper or lower jaw, but are most commonly applied to the maxillary (upper jaw) eye teeth. Sixty percent of these impacted eye teeth are located on the palatal (roof of the mouth) side of the dental arch. The remaining impacted eye teeth are found in the middle of the supporting bone but stuck in an elevated position above the roots of the adjacent teeth or out to the lip side of the dental arch. Sometimes the position can be determined from examining and feeling that area in the mouth, but other times a special x-ray (3D Ct scan) is recommended to better localize the exact position of the tooth within the bone in order to better assess the situation and to guide appropriate surgery.