Congenitally missing teeth, or permanent teeth that never develop, are not uncommon. The condition, also known as hypodontia, affects up to 7.8 percent of the North American population.
If your child has this dental irregularity, what should you do?
If it’s the wisdom teeth that are missing, you have no cause for concern. If, on the other hand, the premolars or incisors fail to develop, you’ll need to consult with an experienced local oral surgeon.
Why Treatment Is Essential
When premolars or incisors never develop, the issue can compromise mouth function, making it difficult for your child to bite and chew food. In addition, congenitally missing teeth can lead to tooth misalignment, periodontal damage and problems with bone growth.
Plus, hypodontia can affect the appearance. The teeth surrounding the missing premolars or incisors often shift to close the gaps, and this can look a little strange. Without treatment, your child could become a target of teasing.
Why Dental Implants Are the Treatment of Choice
To correct hypodontia, most patients require orthodontic care, as braces are necessary to move teeth into the proper position. In some cases, constructive jaw surgery or other oral and maxillofacial procedures are also necessary.
As for tooth replacements, dental implants are the ideal option. Unlike fixed bridges and removable partial dentures, implants look, fit and function just like natural teeth. What’s more, their placement in the jaw means your child won’t have to worry about jawbone atrophy.
When to Replace Congenitally Missing Teeth
You may notice hypodontia when your child is young, or the dentist may diagnose the condition. In either case, seek treatment from an experienced local oral surgeon as soon as possible. But replacing the missing teeth with dental implants may have to wait.
Implants are usually only an option after jaw development is complete, as implants can shift if placed too early. Boys typically reach this milestone around age 17, while girls finish the growth process between the ages of 14 and 16.
If your child has to hold off on getting dental implants, an oral surgeon can explain your options for temporary teeth. Flippers (removable artificial teeth) are popular choices, or you can consider artificial teeth bonded to braces.
In certain cases, oral surgeons may advise early implant surgery to encourage proper jawbone development. Young patients typically require bone grafting first, however, and eventually the dental crowns may need to be replaced.
If your child has congenitally missing teeth, the professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah can determine an effective treatment approach. Dr. Partridge and Dr. Maxfield, our board-certified oral surgeons, have extensive experience working with children and take great care to provide compassionate care.
To discuss treatment for your child’s congenitally missing teeth with our expert team, contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office and schedule a consultation today.