Article at a Glance
Hypodontia is a congenital condition where an individual is missing teeth.
Congenitally missing teeth (CMT) is usually genetic, either due to a trait passed down in a family or an underlying disorder. It can also be caused by early exposure to drugs, infection, or trauma.
Treatment for hypodontia can involve orthodontics, partial bridges, dentures, and dental implants.
When children start losing their baby teeth it’s a rite of passage, but what happens when a permanent tooth doesn’t grow in? The condition, known as hypodontia, is pretty common and treatable. If your dentist has mentioned that your child is missing a tooth or teeth, you probably want to know what it means for your child’s smile and how to fix it.
What is Hypodontia?
Hypodontia, also known as tooth agenesis, refers to a congenital condition where an individual is missing teeth. Depending on which teeth are missing, a child can have instability in the surrounding teeth, malocclusion, insufficient bone growth, difficulty chewing, and articulation issues. A child may also struggle with their self-esteem if the missing tooth or teeth affect their smile.
Missing primary teeth can often signal missing permanent teeth, but hypodontia usually refers to adult teeth. The most common missing teeth are the third molars, known as wisdom teeth. Congenitally missing teeth (CMT) are more often seen in females than males, but approximately 20 percent of adults are missing a tooth or two.
How is Hypodontia Diagnosed?
Your dentist will be able to determine if your child is missing teeth. X-rays generally reveal gaps where permanent teeth should be, even if your child still has a mouth full of primary teeth.
What Causes Hypodontia?
Congenitally missing teeth are usually caused by a trait passed down in families and generally affects one or two teeth. However, some genetic conditions or early exposure to certain infections, trauma, or drugs have also been linked to hypodontia.
If a child is missing more than two teeth, it’s recommended that they be evaluated for a disorder known as ectodermal dysplasia. Though the condition is very rare, it can result in several missing teeth and existing teeth may be misshapen with a pointed or cone-like appearance. Ectodermal dysplasia can also affect the hair, nails, skin, and glands, but symptoms may not be noticeable until a child’s teeth develop.
Treatment Options for Hypodontia
Since hypodontia can lead to long-term issues, it’s important to have your child evaluated by a dentist to determine if treatment is necessary. There are several ways to treat hypodontia depending on the number and location of missing teeth.
- Braces can be used to close gaps and give your child’s teeth stability.
- A partial bridge can replace a missing tooth or teeth and provide stability to the surrounding teeth.
- When several teeth are missing or misshapen, dentures may be the best course of treatment.
- Dental implants are an option for replacing missing teeth.
- Dental crowns can help in some cases, especially for children with ectodermal dysplasia who have misshapen teeth.
Keep in mind that if your child is missing their wisdom teeth, they will probably not require treatment. Since many people require extraction of their third molars, missing those teeth may just save your child a little discomfort!
Final Thoughts on Hypodontia
In most cases, hypodontia is not a serious concern. If your child is missing a tooth or two, even if they are not wisdom teeth, the situation can be treated. Regular visits to the dentist are the best way to identify missing teeth early and take action to prevent long-term issues for your child.
The team at Jefferson Dental Care wants your child to have a healthy smile that will last their whole lifetime. If you’re concerned about your child’s teeth, contact the Jefferson Dental Care clinic nearest you to make an appointment.
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