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Hypodontia (Missing Teeth): Treatment and Causes

Dr. Paul O'Connell Profile Image

Last Reviewed 15 May 2024

Medically reviewed by Dr. Paul O'Connell, Bachelor Dent. Sc. (Trinity College Dublin) 2004, Practice Limited to Orthodontics

Table of Contents

Dr. Paul O'Connell Explains Orthodontic Consultations At 3Dental
Dr. Paul O'Connell Explains Orthodontic Consultations At 3Dental Orthodontics
Dr. Paul O'Connell Explains Orthodontic Consultations At 3Dental
Dr. Paul O'Connell Explains Orthodontic Consultations At 3Dental Orthodontics

Do you have missing teeth? You're not alone.

Hypodontia, the medical term for this condition, affects around 2% of adults, with females being slightly more affected than males (NCBI). But it's more than just a gap in your smile - Hypodontia can influence your dental health, your ability to enjoy food, and even your self-esteem.

Whether these missing teeth are due to genetic factors, developmental anomalies, or other causes, there are effective and innovative treatments available that can restore both function and aesthetics to your smile.

In this guide, we explore the causes of Hypodontia and break down the latest advancements in treatment options. At 3Dental, our goal is to help you navigate your journey towards a healthier, fuller smile with confidence.

Let's explore the possibilities together. But first...

What Is Hypodontia?

Hypodontia is a congenital condition that means a person is missing one or more teeth (typically less than six - excluding wisdom teeth). Dr. Paul O'Connell

The condition usually causes some aesthetic issues, and some people might experience difficulties chewing foods, but hypodontia is less severe than oligodontia and anodontia.

OligodontiaAnodontia
People with oligodontia have six or more teeth missing. It usually impacts permanent teeth and can severely reduce the person's confidence.Anodontia is a highly rare condition where all of the baby teeth or permanent teeth are missing. It usually occurs in conjunction with syndromes that affect another area of the body.

Commonly Affected Teeth in Hypodontia

While hypodontia can occur in any area of the mouth, most people with the condition have the following teeth missing:

  • Upper second premolars: The top teeth in front of the molars.
  • Upper lateral incisors: The teeth on either side of the top middle teeth.
  • Lower second premolars: The bottom teeth in front of the molars.

What Are The Causes Of Hypodontia?

Hypodontia is most often inherited due to a family history of the condition or developmental disorders.

While trauma can result in missing permanent teeth, it's not classed as hypodontia as the tooth was in place before an accident or physical injury.

Genetic And Hereditary Factors

Many patients inherit the condition from their parents, so your risks are higher if a family member has it. The gene is passed down through recessive, X-linked or autosomal dominant inheritance.

Genetic predispositions, such as mutations in the genes responsible for tooth development, can also result in hypodontia. People with Down syndrome and ectodermal dysplasia also have higher rates of missing permanent teeth.

Environmental Factors

Environmental disruptions during tooth development can also contribute to hypodontia. These include babies with a low birth weight, developing a condition such as rubella in the womb, and being born with a cleft lip.

Children who receive radiation and chemotherapy before the age of eight are also at higher risk of hypodontia, with studies highlighting a strong link (Science Direct).

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What Are The Symptoms Of Hypodontia?

The most common symptom of hypodontia is congenitally missing teeth (CMT), but you might experience other symptoms that include:

  • Late Eruptions: Some people notice their adult teeth take longer to come through, which could indicate that some are missing.
  • Gaps: If there are gaps in the teeth, it can point to hypodontia - especially if the gaps are in the front of your mouth.
  • Speech Issues: People with multiple missing teeth might experience speech difficulties, which vary in severity.
  • Misalignment: When teeth are missing, they can influence the position of your other teeth, resulting in misalignments.
  • Sunken Appearance: While a rare symptom, severe hypodontia can impact jaw development, which creates a sunken look on the face.
  • Gum Problems: People with hypodontia might experience gum inflammation due to food particles accumulating in gaps between teeth.

The Impact Of Hypodontia On Oral Health

People with hypodontia often suffer from low confidence - especially when the gaps are visible. The condition can also result in oral health complications, which is why getting a diagnosis and seeking treatment is vital.

Functional Concerns

Each tooth has a unique function and when certain teeth are missing, it can impact your ability to chew food and speak. For example, missing premolars makes grinding food harder, while missing incisors restrict your ability to cut or shear food.

Speech difficulties are also common, with many people struggling to pronounce "f" or "s" consonants.

Aesthetic Issues

Everyone deserves to look and feel their best, but missing teeth can cause confidence issues. Some people might actively avoid smiling or develop social anxiety.

Bone Growth Problems And Gum Mamage

Severe hypodontia cases can restrict jaw bone growth, causing noticeable facial changes. Food particles can also cause bacteria to grow, increasing your risk of gum disease. Over time, gum damage can turn into gingivitis and periodontitis.

Diagnosing Hypodontia

hypodontia diagnosis
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At 3Dental, we take a proactive approach to dental issues and ensure our patients receive unparalleled support from expert dentists. When you first visit us with a missing tooth or teeth, we'll examine your mouth and ask some questions about your symptoms.

We'll take dental X-rays to assess whether there are signs of congenitally missing permanent teeth. If there's no visible tooth root or developing tooth bud, it might be a sign of hypodontia.

Identifying Signs Of Hypodontia In Children

Hypodontia can be challenging to diagnose in young children because missing baby teeth doesn't necessarily mean the child's adult teeth won't grow.

Regular dental checkups are vital for young children, as they allow us to assess their oral development and notice any risk factors of hypodontia.

Early childhood signs that might point to the condition include:

ItemDescription
Missing Baby TeethBaby teeth are meant to fall out and make way for permanent teeth to erupt. However, if a child doesn't develop baby teeth in some areas, it might be a sign that their permanent teeth won't erupt.
Late EruptionsApart from wisdom teeth, most children develop all their adult teeth by age 14. Late eruptions can point to hypodontia in other areas of the mouth.
Family HistoryIf there's a history of hypodontia in the family, the child has a higher risk of inheriting the condition. Taking them for regular dental checkups ensures your dentist can monitor tooth development.
Jaw DevelopmentHypodontia that affects the front teeth can restrict jawbone development, resulting in a visible sunken look.
GapsIf some of your child's permanent teeth grow with significant gaps, it might point to hypodontia.

Treatment Options For Hypodontia

Hypodontia can cause complications and aesthetic issues, but it's also a highly treatable condition with plenty of options available.

At 3Dental, we provide a professional and cost-effective service for patients in Ireland, restoring their smiles and giving them the confidence to embrace new challenges.

braces
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Once we diagnose you with hypodontia, we'll explore which of the following treatments best suit your immediate needs and future smile goals.

Orthodontic Treatment

While braces won't replace missing teeth, they can correct misalignment issues and improve aesthetics.

Your orthodontist might fit braces to prepare your teeth for hypodontia treatments. Closing gaps and encouraging the teeth to move into their natural positions creates enough space for implants.

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Dental Implants

dental implants
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Dental implants function similarly to permanent teeth. They enhance dental function, correct speech and chewing issues, and promote jawbone health.

With adequate care, dental implants can last for years and are customisable to match the colour of your adult teeth. If you have one or two missing teeth, bridges might be a more affordable solution.

Dentures

Dentures are popular alternatives to implants, as the procedure is less invasive. If you have one or a few missing teeth, removable partial dentures attach to the crowns of your primary teeth and match their colour.

Many patients with multiple missing teeth choose implant-retained dentures for more stability. These dentures are anchored in the mouth, preventing them from slipping around while they speak or eat.

Ready For The Next Step? Book An Appointment With 3Dental Today

Missing permanent teeth doesn't have to be a long-term problem with 3Dental. Our specialist dentists will assess the severity of your hypodontia and develop a personalised treatment plan that aligns with your smile goals and budget.

With flexible payment plans for dental implant treatments and cosmetic dentistry, we make it easy for you to boost your confidence and transform your smile. Please book an appointment today or contact us for more information.

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