Canines, or cuspids, are the four long, slightly pointed teeth between the premolars and incisors. The upper two canines are known as the eye teeth because of their position beneath the eyes.
The first set of eye teeth appear at age 12 to 14 months, and the second set appear at 11 to 12 years. The canines are useful for cutting and shearing food, particularly meat.
Due to the relatively late age at which the adult set arrive, it is common for the eye teeth to become impacted. This means they become stuck, unable to fit between the other teeth, and are therefore very prone to infections. Eye teeth are also prone to the same decay and problems as any other teeth.
The eye teeth are amongst the strongest teeth in the mouth and are important for the integrity of the jaw as a whole. Extraction of the eye teeth can substantially change the shape of a person's face. For this reason, dentists are often unwilling to perform an extraction and prefer to rely on an alternative, such as root canal surgery. If extraction is necessary, many dentists recommend an implant to replace the missing tooth.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth, made from titanium, which is fitted into a socket drilled into the jaw. After insertion, a crown is placed atop the implant. Modern dental implants are indistinguishable from real teeth.
Difficulty of Extraction
As the eye teeth are strong and have long roots, removal can be painful. A severely impacted tooth may require more invasive surgery. Many dentists recommend a general anesthetic for more severe cases.