When the baby teeth (primary teeth) are lost, there is normal eruption of adult or secondary teeth in most cases. However, in some instances, an adult tooth does not have enough room to erupt properly into the mouth or it forms at an angle that doesn’t allow for proper eruption. When this occurs, the tooth is impacted. Impaction most commonly occurs with the third molars (wisdom teeth). While the treatment for impacted wisdom teeth is usually extraction, other teeth in the mouth that become impacted should be saved. The second most commonly impacted teeth, the upper canines or eye teeth, are very important to your oral function. To bring them into a normal position in the mouth and improve your oral function, our oral and maxillofacial surgeons will work with your orthodontist to expose the impacted teeth and gradually guide them into position.

The orthodontic exposure is performed by first making a small incision to unveil the impacted tooth. Then an orthodontic bracket will be bonded to the tooth and we will attach a gold or elastic chain to the bracket. At that point, sutures are placed to reposition the gum tissue. Your orthodontist will have placed braces on the other teeth prior to the orthodontic exposure. He or she will attach the chain and bracket to the existing orthodontic wire and will intermittently tighten the chain in order to guide the impacted tooth into the desired position. Alternatively, if a tooth is at a good inclination, in some cases we may uncover the tooth and allow it to erupt spontaneously.  Once visible, it is brought into alignment by the orthodontist. This process typically takes several months.

Recovery from orthodontic exposure is usually followed by mild discomfort and swelling that should subside in three to five days. For more information on orthodontic exposures or our other procedures, please call or visit Loudoun Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Ashburn or Leesburg soon.