Most children have 20 baby teeth, which will eventually fall out and be replaced with 32 adult teeth. Sometimes, the right number of adult teeth doesn't develop. Children may develop too many adult teeth, while others won't develop enough. Children that don't develop enough teeth have a condition called hypodontia. Here's what you need to know about it.
What is hypodontia?
Hypodontia is a condition where children have congenitally missing adult teeth. This means that the tooth buds for the permanent teeth failed to develop in the womb. Between one and six teeth (not including the wisdom teeth) need to be missing for a dentist to diagnose this condition. If more than six teeth are missing, your child may have a slightly different condition, oligodontia.
Why does hypodontia occur?
Hypodontia can be caused by genetic abnormalities. There are multiple genes that could be responsible for the condition, and scientists are still trying to figure out exactly which ones are responsible.
Hypodontia has also been linked to numerous syndromic conditions such as Down syndrome, Ehlers Danlos syndrome, and Rieger syndrome. In total, hypodontia is a symptom of more than 150 conditions. If your dentist diagnoses your child with hypodontia, he or he will ask you to see your family doctor for further testing.
Why are missing teeth a concern?
Missing teeth can be a symptom of a bigger problem, such as an undiagnosed genetic condition, but even if your child is otherwise healthy, missing teeth are a problem.
Missing teeth alter your child's bite and can lead to problems such as chipped or broken teeth, strain of the jaw muscles, or even jaw conditions like temporomandibular joint disorder. Replacing the missing teeth will help to avoid these problems.
Another problem that can occur is retained baby teeth. This means that the baby teeth don't fall out, since there is no adult tooth underneath to push them out. Your child may need to have their baby teeth pulled if they don't fall out on their own.
How common is it?
Hypodontia isn't talked about very much, but it's actually the most common dental anomaly. It occurs in about 5.2% of female children and 4.25% of male children. While male children don't get hypodontia as often as female children do, the ones that are affected have more missing teeth than the females. The average child with hypodontia is missing 1.69 teeth.
If you think your child is missing some of their permanent teeth, make an appointment with your dentist right away with Dr. Casarella.