Replacing baby teeth with adult teeth is just part of growing up; as a parent, you can look forward to watching your little one’s smile gradually develop. But what if a permanent tooth simply never appears? As hard as it might be to imagine, some babies aren’t born with all of their pearly whites – and that can lead to no end of dental problems later in life. Read on to learn why your child might not have a complete set of teeth – as well as ways you can fill in the gaps in their grin.
Why are Teeth Missing?
If an adult tooth never forms in the mouth, it is said to be missing congenitally, meaning it’s related to a genetic condition. The National Foundation for Extodermal Dysplasias found that about a fifth of adults are missing at least one or two teeth, usually the lateral incisors adjacent to your front teeth or the second premolars next to the molars at the back of your mouth.
The condition is usually a trait that has been passed down through your family. However, sometimes the missing teeth are a side effect of a more severe genetic condition, such as Down syndrome or an oral cleft lip and palate.
What Could Happen If My Child is Missing Teeth?
Gaps in your child’s smile could hurt their confidence and might cause them to be teased. Over the long term, their oral health could suffer as well. The teeth they do have might shift into the empty space; teeth that have shifted won’t support the jaw correctly and can prevent your child from chewing and speaking correctly. The longer these issues go uncorrected, the more of an impact they’ll have on your little one’s development. To keep their smile safe, you’ll want to fill these gaps in as soon as possible!
How Can Congenitally Missing Teeth Be Treated?
First, the dentist needs to take an X-ray to confirm that the tooth is missing altogether and isn’t just trapped under the gums. After that, they might suggest a few different kinds of tooth replacements, such as:
- Dental implants, which are inserted directly into the jawbone and fill in for the missing roots of the tooth; the crown they support is what will be used for biting and chewing.
- Partial dentures, which can be designed to fit into the gaps in a smile like a puzzle piece.
- Partial bridges, which are false teeth that have been anchored to your natural teeth.
Which of these restorations is right for your child? The answer is going to be different for every patient. If you think your little one might have congenitally missing teeth, make an appointment with the dentist right away; the sooner you do, the sooner you’ll find a solution that will let your child grow up with an attractive, confident and healthy smile.
About the Author
Dr. Daniel Weldon has been trained in all different aspects of general dentistry, including dental implants and pediatric dentistry. He recently became a master in the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, meaning he has plenty of knowledge and experience when it comes to replacing missing teeth. To schedule an appointment for your child or ask about congenitally missing teeth, you can schedule an appointment at his Ocala practice, Weldon General & Cosmetic Dentistry, by visiting his website or calling (352) 622-3236.