As parents, our children’s teeth are very important to us and watching our children transition from baby teeth to permanent teeth is a special time. While it can be both a frightening and exciting ordeal for our children, listening to their tooth fairy story the next morning is very cute! In some circumstances, parents may find that not all baby teeth are replaced with permanent teeth and this can be very worrying. Our children’s teeth are important for their confidence and self-esteem and this often creates a stressful situation for parents.
If you’ve noticed that your child is missing a permanent tooth then it’s a complicated issue because there could be a number of reasons why. Our jaws continue developing until adulthood so prescribing the best course of action isn’t always straightforward. To offer you some insight, today we’ll be examining this topic in greater detail so you can make an informed decision regarding your child’s development.
Congenitally missing teeth
In most cases, children will have 32 permanent teeth by the time they’re adults. If any of these permanent teeth are missing, the most common cause is known as ‘congenitally missing teeth’, or hypodontia. In fact, approximately 20% of adults are missing at least one permanent tooth so it’s not a cause of great concern. Hypodontia is a fairly common issue as is having an extra tooth, and don’t forget that wisdom teeth erupt in early adulthood which tends to crowd the existing 32 permanent teeth (that’s why they’re commonly extracted).
The teeth which are the most prone to hypodontia are:
- Upper lateral incisors (the two teeth positioned next to your front teeth)
- Lower central incisors (the two front teeth on the bottom jaw)
- Second premolars (the teeth before your molars which are often extracted if there are crowding issues)
- Wisdom teeth (the teeth after your molars which erupt in early adulthood and are also commonly extracted due to crowding issues)
Most children who develop hypodontia will experience only one or two missing teeth, so you don’t need to worry about all their permanent teeth not erupting! Hypodontia occurs when the dental lamina (the tissue below the gums where teeth form) fails to appear due to a mutation of a certain gene associated with teeth development.
What do I do if my child has hypodontia?
There is a large degree of variation regarding the age when children lose their baby teeth. Most children lose their baby teeth between six and twelve but keep in mind that the eruption of a permanent tooth isn’t the only reason why children lose baby teeth. Injuries, habits (such as thumb sucking), and environmental factors can cause children to lose baby teeth prematurely and it will take some time before a permanent tooth will erupt.
If you’ve been waiting around one year for your child’s permanent tooth to erupt, the best action is to schedule an early treatment consultation with your local orthodontist. Through digital impressions and X-rays, your orthodontist will identify if there’s any issues with your child’s teeth development, including problems with their bite, crowding, and other orthodontic conditions which will arise in later years. Your orthodontist may determine that a certain action should be taken to correct your child’s hypodontia, including:
- Dental implants – generally the best solution for missing teeth but can only be performed once your child has stopped growing
- Removable bridge – closes the gap between missing teeth which offers stability and aesthetic appeal
- Traditional bridge – a permanent solution which closes the gap between missing teeth, however they are difficult to clean
- Composite bridgework – a temporary solution which can be removed at a later stage if another solution is better suited
Reach out to your local orthodontist
If you suspect your child has hypodontia, the best action is to schedule an appointment with your local orthodontist to identify the issue. In some cases, no action is required and your child’s teeth development is normal, and in other cases a removable bridge may be needed. Regardless, there are a range of options available to ensure your child’s teeth develop properly which is something worth smiling about!
If you have any further questions about hypodontia or need advice regarding the development of your child’s teeth, reach out to Clear Invisible Braces on the Gold Coast. For more information, simply phone our staff on 07 5689 1225.