The maxillary cuspids are the second most common teeth to become impacted. The cuspid tooth is a critical tooth in the dental arch and plays an important role in your “bite”. The cuspid teeth are very strong biting teeth which 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 into place. They usually come into place around age 13 and cause any space left between the upper front teeth to close tight together. In cases where the cuspid will not erupt spontaneously, an orthodontist and oral & maxillofacial surgeon works together to help these unerupted cuspid to erupt.
In a simple surgical procedure performed in the surgeon’s office, the gum on top of the impacted tooth will be lifted up to expose the hidden tooth underneath. If there is a baby tooth present, it will be removed at the same time. Occasionally, bone overlying the tooth will need to be removed. Once the tooth is exposed, an orthodontic bracket with a short gold chain will be bonded to the exposed impacted tooth. Shortly after surgery, the orthodontist attaches a rubber band to the chain to put a light eruptive pulling force on the impacted tooth. This will begin the process of moving the tooth into its proper place in the dental arch. This is a carefully controlled, slow process that may take up to a full year to complete.