Tooth Exposures

When a tooth gets stuck and can't break through the gum to work as a regular biting tooth, it is known as an impacted tooth. Wisdom teeth and canine teeth are the most common to get stuck and usually need to be either helped into their proper place or removed by a simple surgical procedure known as a tooth exposure.

Wisdom teeth are the rebel of the dental world and for the most part their only real purpose these days seems to be causing havoc inside the mouth. Once these powerful teeth were needed for chewing up raw meat, roots, and other tough foods, we now eat quite a soft diet and have a lot of extra help with dental care. Therefore, wisdom teeth aren't needed, and our jaws have become much smaller and narrower as a result.

When a wisdom tooth becomes stuck, the temptation might be to do nothing at all. But the reality is, doing nothing can lead to a variety of dental problems such as painful infections, cause nearby teeth to grow out of line, lead to changes in the jaw or cysts.

Canines are the most important teeth in the mouth as they are the strongest, so if these do get stuck, it is vitally important that they are helped along the way to their usual place by carrying out a tooth exposure.

Reasons why canine teeth are so important:

  • They Close Gaps – Canines are the last of the front teeth to erupt and close the gaps between the other upper teeth.

  • They are the First Teeth to Touch – Canines are biting teeth. They touch first when the jaw closes, and help to guide the other teeth into position.

  • Alignment & Function – Canine teeth help to correct alignment and function of the other teeth on the dental arch. Missing or impacted canines can significantly affect the function and aesthetic appearance of the smile.

When a tooth becomes impacted, there usually are two options available. In the first option, our oral surgeon will make a small incision to lift the gum from around the tooth which will allow the tooth to erupt on its own.

In the second option, your dentists will uncover the tooth with a small incision and then attach a bracket or chain to it which will help guide the tooth down using orthodontics.

What To Expect After a Tooth Exposure?

  • Do Not Disturb the Wound - A surgical dressing may be placed following an exposure. This dressing helps to keep the tooth exposed. If it falls out, do not get alarmed but please contact the practice for instructions.

  • Bleeding - Some blood in the saliva is normal for 24 hours. If this becomes excessive, try to control the bleeding by biting on a gauze pad placed on the area for 30 minutes. If bleeding continues, please call for the practice for further instructions.

  • Swelling - Slight swelling is normal after a tooth exposure. To relieve this apply an ice pack near the area for the first 24 hours.

  • Diet - Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and avoid overly hot liquids or hard foods.

  • Pain - As soon as the local anesthetic starts to wear off you should begin taking over the counter pain medication.

  • Oral Hygiene - Cleanliness is essential to proper healing. Brush your teeth as usual beginning the day after surgery. Rinse with warm salt water frequently until healing is complete.

  • Activity - Throbbing and bleeding can occur if you exercise. Keep exercise and physical activities to a minimum for a few days following surgery.