Did you know? About 20 percent of all adults have at least one missing tooth—not because of a sneaky Tooth Fairy, poor dental hygiene or tooth extraction, but because they were born that way. Called hypodontia or congenitally missing teeth, this perplexing condition can be embarrassing and uncomfortable.
The most common missing teeth are wisdom teeth, followed by the teeth right in front of your molars, the two teeth to the side of your two front teeth or the two front teeth in the lower jaw. Sometimes it is very obvious because there is a gap in the teeth. Other times, it is not so obvious because the person’s baby teeth are still in place.
“I've seen adults in their 40s with baby teeth in their lower jaw because the permanent ones were congenitally missing,” said Dr. Luis Pérez, DDS of Fairway Dental in Carrollton. “Most often, however, people seek treatment with us when they are teens or early adults. At that point the adult mouth is formed and we can determine the best solution to get them that beautiful smile they deserve.”
While no one knows exactly what causes missing teeth, there is definitely a genetic correlation which is sometimes compounded by environmental factors. Dentists can often tell from the very earliest X-rays that there might be a problem.
“Strangely enough, some children will have missing teeth, but their adult teeth come in later. Others will have all their baby teeth but are missing one or more adult teeth. Generally by age 16, we know for sure if they are going to have permanently missing teeth and can begin treatment,” adds Dr. Pérez.
With a missing wisdom tooth, treatment is rarely required since most people have their wisdom teeth extracted for good dental hygiene anyway. According to Dr. Pérez, for the more noticeable teeth, there are three main treatment options:
- Orthodontics – Depending on the number of missing teeth and location, it may be possible to move the teeth enough with orthodontic treatment to fill in the gap caused by the missing tooth.
- Dental implants – A dental implant is an artificial tooth that is placed into the jaw to hold a replacement tooth or a bridge. “Unlike dentures, dental implants and bridges are permanently attached to your gums and jaw. They feel, look and act like real teeth. Only your dentist will ever know,” says Dr. Pérez.
- Bridges – If you are missing several teeth, implant-supported bridges can replace them.
“Often, with dental implants or bridges, we also recommend orthodontics,” notes Dr. Pérez. “This allows all the teeth to align from a root perspective and aesthetically with the implant for a natural looking smile.”
Dr. Pérez specializes in “prosthodontics.” He provides comprehensive oral health diagnosis, treatment planning and restoration, and is the architect who can restore optimal function and appearance of your smile.
If you would like to know more about congenitally missing teeth, call Fairway Dental in Carrollton for a free smile consultation at 214-731-0558, or visit the website at www.fairwaydental.com.
Luis R. Pérez, DDS, PA
1616 W. Hebron Pkwy. Suite 100
Carrollton, TX 75010