When children lose their baby teeth, it’s a rite of passage, but what happens when a permanent tooth doesn’t develop? A condition known as hypodontia is fairly common and treatable. When your child’s pediatric dentist mentions that your child is missing a tooth or teeth, you probably want to know what it means for his or her smile.
What is hypodontia?
The term “hypodontia,” also known as “tooth agenesis,” refers to a congenital condition where an individual is born without teeth. Depending on which teeth are missing, a child may experience instability in the surrounding teeth, malocclusion, insufficient bone growth, difficulties chewing, and articulation issues. The child’s self-esteem may also suffer if the missing tooth or teeth affect their smile.
Missing primary teeth can often indicate missing permanent teeth, but hypodontia typically refers to missing adult teeth. Third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, are the most commonly missing teeth. Females are more likely than males to be born with congenitally missing teeth, but approximately 20% of adults are missing one or more teeth.
Hypodontia: How is it diagnosed?
Your child’s pediatric dentist will be able to determine if your child is missing any teeth. A child’s X-rays will usually reveal gaps where permanent teeth should be, even if his or her mouth is still full of primary teeth.
What Are the Causes of Hypodontia?
Congenitally missing teeth, in general, are caused by a trait inherited from the parents and usually affect one or two teeth. Some genetic conditions or early exposure to infections, trauma, or drugs have also been linked to hypodontia.
When a child is missing more than two teeth, they should be evaluated for a condition known as ectodermal dysplasia. The condition is rare but can result in several missing teeth, and existing teeth may be misshapen with a cone-like appearance. Symptoms may not be noticeable until a child’s teeth have formed. Ectodermal dysplasia can also affect the hair, nails, skin, and glands.
Treatment Options For Hypodontia
Since hypodontia can cause long-term problems, it’s important to have your child evaluated by a dentist to determine if treatment is necessary. Depending on the number and location of missing teeth, there are several ways to treat hypodontia.
- In addition to closing gaps, braces can give your child’s teeth stability.
- Partial bridges can replace missing teeth and provide stability to the surrounding teeth.
- When several teeth are missing or misshapen, alternative tooth replacement may be necessary.
- Missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants.
- Children with misshapen teeth due to ectodermal dysplasia may benefit from dental crowns in some cases.
If your child doesn’t have wisdom teeth, they are unlikely to need treatment. Considering many people need their third molars extracted, your child may be able to avoid some discomfort if they don’t have those teeth!