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Congenitally Missing Teeth and How to Replace Them


Posted on 11/25/2015 by Dr. Michael Allard
A man suffering from a missing tooth!The average adult should have 32 teeth, but because many have the wisdom removed, they'll typically only have 28. For the most part, all adult teeth will be long visible by the time that a person turns 21. However, there are some cases where all of the teeth don't develop, and these are referred to as congenitally missing teeth.

Why Might Teeth Be Congenitally Missing?

The process of forming a tooth is complicated, as there are numerous genetic signals that need to be followed in order for the process to go smoothly. Most cases of congenitally missing teeth result from a lack of a band of tissue called the dental lamina.

This strip of tissue is found under the gums, and since the tooth will form inside of it, the tooth can't develop if the dental lamina isn't there. This could be due to numerous genetic factors, including mutations of three genes: AXIN2, MSX1, and PAX9.

Which Teeth Are Most Likely to Be Congenitally Missing?

Some teeth are more likely to be congenitally missing than others:

•  Third molars. Also known as the wisdom teeth, these are found in the very back of the mouth. The wisdom teeth account for such a vast majority of congenitally missing teeth that when they are taken out of the equation, the percent of adults experiencing missing teeth falls from 20% to only 5%.
•  Second premolars. These teeth are found right in front of the molars, and if you only have one rather than two, you could have a congenitally missing tooth.
•  Incisors. The upper lateral incisors found next to the two front teeth and the lower central incisors are often gone when people experience congenitally missing teeth.

How Can Congenitally Missing Teeth Be Treated?

There are a few treatment options that can be used to deal with congenitally missing teeth:

•  Traditional bridge. A dental bridge with central incisor and canine abutments can correct missing teeth. A dental bridge is a great option because of its minimal treatment time, and it involves removing some of the adjacent teeth so that they can adequately support the bridge. It is fairly easy to fit and will restore the function and structure of your smile. About half of all traditional bridges can last for 10-15 years, so as long as you care for your prosthesis, it can be a long-lasting solution.
•  Removable partial dentures. This option is made out of plastic, and it is not a permanent alternative to congenitally missing teeth. It is loosely attached and unstable, which can affect comfort and function, but the adjacent teeth won't be affected. Removable partials are also relatively affordable and easy to install.
•  Dental implants. If you are looking for the best, permanent solution for your congenitally missing teeth, dental implants are it. However, this will require an invasive surgical procedure in order to implant the abutment into the jawbone, and considerable healing time will be needed so that the metal post can fuse to the jaw. The best benefit of dental implants is that these replacement teeth are permanent, and you'll care for them just like they were your natural teeth.
•  Orthodontics. In certain situations, orthodontic work may be recommended to correct congenitally missing teeth. Orthodontic work can move the adjacent teeth into the position of the missing teeth. Orthodontic maintenance of a missing tooth space is usually the first treatment in a sequence of procedures needed to replace congenitally missing teeth, especially the laterals.

If some of your teeth are congenitally missing and you are looking for potential treatment options to improve your smile and the function of your teeth, contact our office. We can discuss dental implants and the rest of your options.
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Arrowhead Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Dr. Michael Allard
18555 N 79th Ave Suite 103
Glendale, AZ 85308
New Patients: (623) 738-2564
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About Us
Dr. Michael Allard has been delivering outstanding care in oral and maxillofacial surgery here in Arizona since 2000. As an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Glendale, AZ, Dr. Allard manages a wide variety of problems relating to the mouth, teeth and facial regions.
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