Exposure and Ligation: Paving the Way for Impacted Teeth

Impaction occurs when a tooth gets “stuck” under the gum — typically, blocked by another tooth. It’s a common reason for wisdom tooth extraction, but the third molars aren’t the only teeth that get impacted. Canine tooth impaction is also fairly common, occurring in about 2%-3.6% of people.

While your wisdom teeth aren’t necessary for chewing or other functions, canines play an important role in biting; plus, they contribute to the aesthetics of your smile. That means extraction isn’t really the ideal solution for impacted canines. At Pacific Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center, Brandon Kang, DDS, uses exposure and ligation to treat impacted canines in patients from the San Francisco and Oakland, California areas.

How exposure and ligation works

Exposure and ligation helps move impacted canine teeth into their proper positions over time. The first step is to expose the tooth root so your entire tooth — from root to tip — can be shifted into its proper position.

Your canine teeth typically come in at about age 12. While exposure and ligation can be performed on adult patients, ideally it should be performed as early as possible. Your canines have the longest root of any tooth, and early treatment can help prevent potential issues that could occur as the jaw grows.

Dental exams and X-rays usually reveal a potential impaction even before the tooth erupts, which is one more reason it’s so important for your child to have regular exams during childhood. By identifying a canine impaction early, we can plan treatment ahead of time to ensure the procedure is performed at the ideal time.

What to expect during treatment

In order to expose your canine tooth, Dr. Kang will use an innovative technology called Piezosurgery®. This technique uses ultrasound frequencies to incise the bone tissue and expose the underlying canine tooth. Piezosurgery offers several benefits, including enhanced precision and accuracy.

After your impacted canine tooth is exposed, Dr. Kang attaches a very tiny chain to the tooth. Over the next several months, Dr. Kang uses the chain to gently pull forward on your tooth, guiding it into its correct position in your jaw. Typically, canines migrate to their new positions within a year’s time, but it could be faster, depending on your tooth’s initial location and other factors.

Over-the-counter pain medicine and ice packs can help with any discomfort or minor swelling you might experience during the migration process.

The actual exposure procedure is performed in a single office visit. You can expect a little swelling afterward, but healing typically takes place in a couple of days. 

State-of-the-art care for a lifetime of benefits

Exposure and ligation is just one treatment Dr. Kang offers to help patients of all ages enjoy better oral health. To learn more about treatment for impacted teeth or to schedule an exam, call our office most convenient to you or request an appointment online today.

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