Congenitally missing teeth or hypodontia is a condition where some of the adult teeth do not develop. Although it can also affect the primary teeth, this is quite rare, unless there is an underlying genetic disorder (see ectodermal dysplasia discussed below).
What teeth are usually affected?
Third molars (wisdom teeth) are the most commonly missing but are not included in the definition of hypodontia. This is because it is considered a variation of normal to have missing wisdom teeth. The other most commonly missing teeth are lower second premolars and the upper lateral incisors.
Genetic disorders causing missing teeth:
Ectodermal dysplasia- This is a term that includes many genetic disorders that affect the hair, nails, skin, glands, and teeth of those born with it. Teeth may be missing, malformed (cone-shaped) and more prone to decay. Those with ectodermal dysplasia have a normal life expectancy, and most do not have developmental delays. Dentists may be one of the first health professionals to suspect ectodermal dysplasia due to the differences in tooth development.
How will I know if I have missing teeth?
Your dental professional will be able to tell if you have any missing teeth. Usually, they will need an x-ray to confirm this. Gaps between your teeth, losing a baby tooth with no adult tooth taking its place or having a baby tooth longer than normal are all signs of having congenitally missing teeth.
I don't have an adult tooth yet, how long will my baby tooth last?
In the case of having no adult tooth to replace a baby tooth, sometimes the baby tooth remains in the mouth longer than it is meant to. There are cases where they can last well into adulthood, depending on the condition of the tooth and how long the roots are. At some point, the baby tooth may need to be extracted, and it is a good idea to have a treatment plan ready for how to fill the space.
Implants- Usually the best option since they act the most like natural teeth and have the best patient satisfaction and comfort. This treatment may need to be delayed until adulthood and after orthodontic treatment, if it is necessary. Implants are relatively easy to care for and keep healthy with good daily oral hygiene.
Bridge- A bridge can be used to fill a space left by a missing tooth. It involves two crowns on either side of the space with an artificial tooth in between. This is a permanent and non-removable solution but requires thorough cleaning under the bridge to maintain tissue and tooth health.
Orthodontics- Sometimes gaps can be closed with orthodontics and do not require having the space filled. Orthodontics may also need to be done in addition to other treatment options.
Dentures- Partial dentures may be an option to replace missing teeth. Sometimes they are used as short-term solutions until a more permanent treatment such as implants can be done. Implant retained dentures may also be an option. These are more secure dentures that are held in place by implants.
Missing teeth can affect many things including the ability to eat, speak and smile properly. You can work with your dental professional to come up with an individualized treatment plan that will work best for you. Call us to schedule your appointment today: 905-286-1569