Losing your baby teeth and watching the permanent ones erupt is practically a rite of passage for growing children, but did you know sometimes a permanent tooth won’t erupt because it was never there? According to NFED, up to 20% of adults have grown up with congenitally missing teeth – and this can have severe consequences when it comes to oral health. Read on to learn what it means if the space in your child’s smile stays empty and what you can do about it.
Why Would a Tooth Be Missing?
Congenitally missing teeth – teeth that never appear and aren’t trapped in the gums – usually occur due to genetics. It can be a benign trait passed down through the family, but other times it could be a sign of a genetic disorder called ectodermal dysplasia, Down syndrome, and oral cleft lip and palate. Normally, it’s the lateral incisors (which are on either side of your two front teeth) or the second premolars (between the first premolars and the molars at the very back of the mouth) that are missing.
Why are Congenitally Missing Teeth a Problem?
If no one can see the gap where the tooth is missing, you might be tempted to think it’s no big deal. However, a full set of teeth is essential for maintaining oral health. If your child is missing just one tooth, the adjacent teeth could shift forward into the gap, leading to alignment and bite problems. An incomplete smile could also impair your child’s ability to chew and speak properly, and their jawbone might start to break down due to the “unneeded” space.
What Can I Do If My Child is Congenitally Missing a Tooth?
If your dentist confirms via X-ray that your child is completely missing a tooth, you’ll want to think about getting a dental restoration to take its place. While partial dentures might be a viable option for replacing one or two teeth, in many cases dental implants might be the best option. Implants are titanium posts that stimulate the jawbone, stopping it from degenerating; they also provide a strong, stable base for prosthetic teeth. That said, it’s often recommended to delay getting dental implants until age 16 or 18 at minimum and use a different type of restoration instead. Talk to your dentist about the different options so that you can figure out what’s best for your child.
Since the effects of missing teeth tend to occur over the long term, make sure your child is receiving regular checkups when their adult teeth start coming in. That way, it’s more likely that the issue will be caught as soon as possible. Don’t let your child grow up with an incomplete grin!
About 21st Century Dental
Here at 21st Century Dental, we work very hard to earn your trust and loyalty during each of your appointments. We’re happy to offer second opinions at no charge to help you make sure that you’re always making the best decision to protect your oral health. If your child has a congenitally missing tooth, you can schedule a consultation at our Irving practice by visiting our website or calling (972) 255-3712.