Canine Exposure

Canine Exposure

Sometimes, teeth do not erupt though the gum and instead remain stuck in either bone or tissue. This happens most often with wisdom teeth, although canine teeth also become impacted. Not only do canines serve a practical function when eating, their location in the front of your mouth affects your smile, and thus your appearance. Additionally, impacted teeth may negatively affect nearby teeth, become infected, or form cysts.

In a canine exposure procedure, your periodontist creates a small incision in the gum, allowing the impacted tooth to erupt. He or she then ensures correct positioning of the canine with a dental brace.

Before the Procedure

Bring any questions you have to your pre-surgical consultation. Discuss your medical history, including all medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter. Your doctor will provide instructions during this initial consultation; follow these exactly to ensure optimum results.

The Procedure

Your periodontist administers a local anesthetic and then creates an incision to expose the impacted tooth. In the event the baby tooth also did not erupt, the doctor removes it to expose the adult tooth. Next, he or she attaches an orthodontic bracket to the newly exposed tooth before connecting a chain on the bracket to an orthodontic arch wire. Typically, the gum is now sutured closed, leaving the chain exposed through a small hole. Occasionally, though, your dentist leaves the impacted tooth uncovered.

If both canines are impacted, the preference is performing this procedure on both canines during the same procedure. This ensures you only need to recover from one surgery rather than two.

The Follow-up

Within two weeks, you return to your periodontist where he or she attaches a rubber band to the chain. This adds a light pulling force on the chain, and therefore the impacted tooth, to begin moving it to its proper position. The process may take up to a year to ensure the tooth erupts properly.

Once the impacted tooth erupts fully, your dentist inspects the surrounding tissue for health. You may require a soft tissue graft procedure to ensure the gum withstands normal chewing and tooth brushing.


Follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions. Do not disturb the wound or remove surgical packing (if placed). However, if packing dislodges on its own, do not be alarmed. Your dentist tells you what to expect after performing you surgery and will advise you about this.

The first few days after surgery, keep physical activity to a minimum. If you do exercise, stop if throbbing or bleeding occurs or you become lightheaded.

Expect light bleeding, swelling, and possibly bruising in the first few days after surgery. Apply icepacks to minimize these effects. You may also take OTC pain medications for mild pain management. Your doctor may prescribe medication for severe pain. Drink plenty of fluids, but do not use a straw, and limit your diet to soft foods. Avoid hot foods and liquids, and chew away from the surgical site.

Maintain oral hygiene with regular, careful brushing, taking care to rinse and spit gently. Rinse five to six times per day with a cup of lukewarm water and a teaspoon of salt, starting the day after surgery and continuing throughout the healing period. This keeps your wound clean.

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