Missing teeth or hypodontia is a condition where one or more teeth do not develop and are missing in the mouth. This condition is relatively common, with around 5% of the population experiencing at least one missing tooth. Hypodontia can affect any tooth, but it is most common for the wisdom teeth, lateral incisors, and second premolars to be missing.
Orthodontic treatment is often necessary to address the problems associated with hypodontia, including gappy teeth, crooked teeth, impacted teeth, speech difficulties, and problems with chewing. The type of orthodontic treatment needed will depend on the location and number of missing teeth, as well as the overall alignment of the remaining teeth. If you have hypodontia or suspect that you may have this condition, it’s important to speak to your dentist or orthodontist as soon as possible to determine the best course of treatment.
How common are missing teeth?
Approximately 1 in 3 people are missing at least 1 wisdom tooth. If we exclude wisdom teeth, hypodontia affects approximately 5% of the population.
What causes hypodontia?
The exact cause of hypodontia is unknown, but genetics play a significant role. Other factors that can contribute to hypodontia include injury, infections, and certain medications.
What are the treatment options for missing teeth?
Usually the teeth surrounding the missing toot drift into undesirable positions. Broadly speaking, if there is a missing tooth, orthodontic treatment can be used to achieve one of two things.
One option might be to try and close the space and camouflage the fact there is a missing tooth. The advantage of this option is that you will not be left with spaces that need to be restored with bridges or dental implants. This option may not be possible though due to a number of factors including the bite and asymmetry.
The second treatment option is to reopen the space so that a prosthetic tooth such as an implant or bridge can be fit to restore the space. Although there are long term cost and hassle implications to having a bridge or implant, this option will often provide the best aesthetic and functional result.
The decision on which route to take will be determined by a number of factors including the number of missing teeth, the position of the missing teeth, and the bite.
At what age should hypodontia be treated?
Missing teeth should be identified early by your dentist and will need to be confirmed with an x-ray. There are more treatment options and generally better outcomes when treatment is carried out in childhood.