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Getting Braces for Impacted Teeth: What to Expect

By Kellyn Hodges on June 06, 2017

A woman smiling outdoorsCrooked teeth and poor dental alignment can take many forms. While we help plenty of patients with their underbites, overbites, crossbites, we also take care of patients who have impacted teeth that affect the beauty and function of their smile. In such cases, braces and other advanced orthodontic therapies can work wonders.

The team at our Philadelphia dental care center would like to look at impacted teeth in a bit more detail since they are often misunderstood.

What Does Impaction Mean?

Impaction refers to a spacing problem when a tooth is emerging. An impacted tooth is a tooth that is blocked in the process of emerging through the gums. This can lead to discomfort, problems with the appearance of the smile, issues with bite function.

Impaction is most commonly associated with the wisdom teeth, a set of additional molars that emerge during a person's late teens or early twenties. Impaction can also affect the maxillary cuspid (maxillary canine), which are typically the last of the front teeth to emerge. The maxillary cuspids come in around age 13.

What Happens If Impaction Isn't Treated?

If impaction isn't treated, the overall appearance of the smile can be seriously affected. Impacted maxillary canines may emerge in the palate or above the teeth along the gumline of the upper dental arch. Impacted wisdom teeth can press against your existing molars, resulting in pain and discomfort.

Over a long period of time, the failure to treat impacted teeth can result in an increased with of tooth decay because of issues with proper oral hygiene. With regard to wisdom teeth, it's also possible for pericoronitis to occur, which is a type of inflammation of the gum tissue.

Treating Impacted Teeth Through Orthodontics

Wisdom teeth are typically address through surgical removal, which is a routine procedure for many people in their early-to-mid twenties. As for impacted maxillary cuspids and other teeth, orthodontic treatment is typically the ideal option for treatment.

Exposure and Bracketing with Braces for Impacted Teeth

Braces will be used to help reposition the teeth and make room for the impacted tooth. Oral surgery may be performed to remove gum tissue around the impacted tooth, exposing more of the hard tissue in the process. Since the impacted tooth is not located along the dental arch, a bracket with a chain will be placed on the impacted tooth, guiding the tooth to the wire and brackets of the braces themselves. This chain will eventually be replaced with a rubber band, which will gradually pull the impacted tooth into its proper position along the dental arch.

The treatment time can take up to a year to complete depending on the position of the impacted tooth. Careful pressure will be used to move the impacted tooth into place and prevent harming the other teeth nearby.

Earlier Treatment Is Generally Better

With orthodontic care, it's often much easier and faster to address alignment issues in younger patients. Minors are still growing, which means their jawbone, dental arches, palate, and teeth are much more malleable as they are in the process of maturing and developing. While adult orthodontics is effective, addressing impaction and other spacing issues earlier in life tends to be for the best.

Parents who have children with impacted canines and other sorts of malocclusion issues should speak with their child's pediatric dentist about potential orthodontic care and when it ought to be implemented.

Learn More About Your Orthodontic Treatment Options

For more information about treating impacted teeth and improving your overall dental alignment, be sure to contact an experienced orthodontist today. We look forward to your visit and discussing these matters in much greater detail.

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