When many people think of orthodontics, they think of straightening their smile or fixing their bite. In addition to these issues, orthodontics can also help to fix singular issues. In particular, if you have a canine that has not erupted, orthodontic procedures may be able to help. Here's what you need to know.

1. The Adult Canine Tooth Is One of the Last to Erupt

Generally, the baby canine tooth doesn't fall out until you are between nine and 12 years old, and the adult tooth typically comes in after that. Sometimes called dog teeth, these teeth are incredibly important for your bite. They are the first teeth to touch when you bite down, and as a result, they affect the alignment of the rest of your bite.

2. Impacted Canines Are Relatively Common

However, for many people the adult tooth is impacted. In fact, that happens to 2 percent of people. Ideally, your child should get an X-ray several years before this tooth is schedule to erupt, and the dentist can let you know if it's impacted. Then, you can start to work with an orthodontist.

3. Orthodontics Can Create Space for Canine Teeth to Erupt

Basically, the orthodontist can put braces on the teeth surrounding that area, and they can help move the other teeth out of the way. If necessary, the orthodontist or dentist may need to extract the baby canine if it doesn't come out on its own.

These steps give the impacted canine tooth room to naturally come out on its own. However, in some cases, the tooth may need more encouragement.

4. Extra Help May Be Necessary

In some cases, particularly if the patient is a little older, the canine may not erupt on its own. In those cases, an oral surgeon may need to remove some of the gum over the impacted tooth. Then, he or she can connect a very small chain to the tooth, and that gets attached to a bracket.

Then, the patient returns to the orthodontist, and he or she attaches an orthodontic rubber band to this area. These elements work together to very slowly pull the impacted canine out of the gums.

5. Orthodontic Care May Not Always Work

Unfortunately, there are some cases (predominantly with adult patients) where the orthodontic approach may not work. That happens if the tooth has fused to bone in that area. At that point, the tooth may need to be surgically extracted and then replaced with some type of fake tooth, implant or denture.