Exposure of teeth

Sometimes a tooth needs help to break through your gum


When a tooth fails to come through your gum, you may need a oral surgical procedure to help it come through and move into the right position.

A tooth may fail to erupt for a couple of reasons. It often happens if your teeth are crowded or if the tooth has developed in the wrong position.


Why an unerupted tooth is a problem


If a tooth gets stuck under your gum, a cyst can form around it and become infected. An unerupted tooth may also push other teeth out of position or cause damage to the roots of nearby teeth.


Where the surgery is performed


The surgery can be done in private hospital under general anaesthetic or in Dr van Mourik’s private rooms under intravenous (IV) sedation and/or local anaesthetic.  For safety reasons Dr van Mourik always uses an anaesthetist who is a specially trained medical doctor to perform his general anaesthetic and intravenous sedation.


How unerupted teeth are exposed


The buried tooth is covered by gum and sometimes by a thin layer of bone as well. Dr van Mourik removes the gum and any bone covering the tooth. If the tooth is deeply imbedded in your jaw, he makes a small tunnel through the jawbone to provide a path for the tooth to erupt.

Your orthodontist may ask him to attach a small gold chain to the tooth which is then attached to your braces. When the bone and gum have been removed, the tooth can then be seen from inside your mouth. Alternatively, the gum may be closed over the chain.

The surgery is carefully designed to minimise the risks of injury to nearby nerves and other teeth.

The procedure takes 15 to 25 minutes.


Recovery after exposure of teeth surgery


Hospital stay: Usually a same-day procedure. Once you’ve recovered from the anaesthetic, you’ll be ready to go. If you’ve had general anaesthetic or intravenous sedation, you’ll need someone to pick you up and take you home.

Pain management: Pain is different for everyone but normal painkillers are usually all you’ll need. An icepack can help reduce any swelling or pain.

Work/school: You’ll need to allow approximately 1-2 days off.

Stitches: If stitches are used, they’ll most likely be dissolving stitches. They gradually dissolve over 1-2 weeks.

Follow up care: Dr van Mourik will want to see you after your surgery to monitor your healing.

Dr Van Mourik will give you detailed post-operative instructions during your pre-surgery consultation. To maximise your chance of making a quick recovery without complications, please pay careful attention to these instructions. General information can be found on the Post-op and Patient Care page.


Possible complications


Exposure of teeth is a common surgery and it’s unusual to have complications. There’s even less risk if you get a skilled oral and maxillofacial surgeon to remove your wisdom teeth.

However, all surgeries have some potential risks and complications and for exposure of a tooth these are:

  • Damage to neighbouring teeth – If this occurs the nearby tooth may need to be root-filled or removed.
  • Non-movement – Very occasionally the tooth refuses to move into position.
  • Gum recovering the tooth – Occasionally the gum will grow over the tooth.

Dr van Mourik is a highly experienced Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon. He explains things clearly and he’s a good listener, so do ask him questions about your exposure of teeth surgery and tell him about any concerns you have — he’ll take the time to answer and manage your concerns sensitively.



Learn more about exposure of teeth surgery in our comprehensive guides


Tooth exposure guide



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