What are impacted cuspids?

Impacted or “stuck” teeth are teeth that cannot fully erupt through your gums due to a lack of space in your mouth. The most common teeth to become impacted are your third molars, or wisdom teeth. The next most common are your cuspids aka “canine or I teeth”, which are located on the corners of your mouth.

In this post, we’ll explain how impacted cuspids surgery works and why early detection is key to successful outcomes.

Why cuspids are important

Unlike wisdom teeth, which can be extracted without affecting the functionality of your mouth, cuspid teeth play two important roles in your bite:

  • Cuspids have the longest roots and are one of the strongest biting teeth in your jaw
  • As the first teeth to touch when you bite, cuspids guide the rest of your teeth into position for proper chewing and alignment

Last in line

Out of the front teeth, the upper cuspids are the last to erupt into the mouth and therefore the most likely to become impacted due to crowding of teeth. Typically, as the cuspids come in, space is made by pushing the front teeth closer together. If there’s not enough room, they can become impacted in place, inside the jaw.

Younger is better

Early detection of missing cuspids is important to successful treatment. The older a patient is, the less likely it is that cuspids will erupt naturally. Usually, if space is cleared for eruption before the age of 11 or 12, cuspids will erupt without issue.

Making room for eruption

There are several techniques used to clear space for eruption depending on the cause of impaction.

Sometimes orthodontic treatment is sufficient to move teeth to the side and allow the cuspids to come in. In other cases, an oral surgeon may need to surgically access the cuspid and apply an orthodontic bracket and chain which allows the orthodontist to pull the tooth into the normal position.