The older a patient, the more likely an impacted canine will not erupt naturally, even if the space is available for the tooth to fit into the dental arch. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that a panorex screening x-ray, along with a dental examination, be performed on all dental patients around the age of seven to count teeth and determine if there are problems with eruption of the adult teeth. It is crucial to determine whether all the adult teeth are present or not. Other circumstances to consider include whether there are extra teeth or unusual growths, extreme crowding or other blockages.
The exam is usually performed by your general dentist, and referrals to orthodontic care are given if needed. The problem is often treated with braces to allow for proper eruption. However, treatment could also include a referral to an oral surgeon for the extraction of over-retained baby teeth and/or selected adult teeth that are blocking the eruption of the canine. Any extra teeth or growths may also be removed. If the space for the eyetooth is cleared by age 11 or 12, it is very likely the tooth will erupt naturally. If the eye tooth develops too much before there is space for its eruption, the eyetooth may stay in place. When patients wait until later in life, typically over 40, there is a much higher chance the tooth will have fused into its position. At this point, the only option becomes extracting the tooth and considering alternatives to replace it.