Children’s eye teeth, sometimes called canines, are so-named due to their direct positioning beneath the eyes. Dental professionals refer to these teeth, easily recognizable by their pointed shape and length, as the cuspids.
The upper and lower canines typically erupt in children between ages of 16 and 23 months. More than any others, these teeth often cause confusion for parents about when — or if — they should fall out.
When Children’s Eye Teeth Fall Out
Primary teeth (also known as first teeth or baby teeth) generally begin falling out around the age of 6 or 7. The first to go are the central and lateral incisors, which you may know as the four front teeth — the middle two on the top and bottom. The canines are some of the last teeth to go — they start falling out between the ages 10 and 12 in most children.
What if the Canines Don’t Fall Out?
If your child’s canine teeth have not fallen out on their own by the time they are 13, a problem may be brewing. The adult (second) teeth grow below the gum line and they push out the primary set one by one. If the baby canines are not shed, your child may have one of several issues.
The first possibility is that the adult cuspids could be impacted, which can happen for several reasons. Some children have extra teeth, inhibiting the natural eruption of the second teeth. In other cases, kids may be missing some adult teeth — about 1 in 20 children has one or more missing teeth.
Overcrowding also may be an issue. Poor alignment can make the canines compete for space in the mouth with the nearby incisors and molars. Rarely, an unusual growth in the soft tissue of the gums can hamper the progress of cuspid development as well.
A dental examination and X-rays can quickly and easily reveal whether canines are impacted .
Impaction issues may be prevented or easily treated if diagnosed early enough. Consequently, it’s important to have an oral health professional monitor your child’s mouth during this time.
Treatment for Impacted Canines
The wisdom teeth, or third molars, become impacted most frequently. When that happens, a dentist or oral surgeon removes them. The cuspids, however, serve an important function in the mouth, are critical to the bite and therefore are not typically removed.
These are the teeth that touch first when the jaw closes, guiding the other teeth into place. They are essential to the correct alignment of the jaw and other teeth.
If extraction is warranted, the missing tooth should be replaced promptly with a dental implant in order to maintain a correctly aligned bite. An implant also will help restore an aesthetic appearance and prevent bone loss.
In some cases, a combined surgical and orthodontic treatment plan is the best approach. The oral surgeon can expose the impacted cuspid, which can then be shifted into the correct position, thus achieving both function and a beautiful smile.
If you have concerns about the progress of your child’s teeth, schedule a consultation with Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, serving Salt Lake City and the surrounding communities. Our doctors can provide a comprehensive evaluation and recommend any beneficial treatments for preserving your children’s eye teeth and improving dental health.