Tooth loss at any age is a real concern. It can affect children, adolescents, and adults. Cosmetic dentistry has various solutions to combat your (or your child's) tooth loss. So if you haven't made your holiday wish list yet, make sure to check out these options for filling in gaps and maintaining oral health.
Congenitally Missing Baby Teeth
While everyone is born toothless, some children experience hypodontia – a disorder where baby teeth are not present at all. Sure puts a new meaning to the beloved Christmas song, doesn't it? Thankfully, congenitally missing baby teeth is not very common. It is a genetic disorder that affects less than 1% of the population. It is also seen in people with Downs Syndrome and similar disorders. Options for repairing pediatric hypodontia include:
- Spacers: To preserve the shape and function of a child's developing jaw, spacers can be used. Spacers keep room between existing teeth so that, once adulthood is reached, a false tooth can be placed. Spacers are beneficial when only one or two teeth are missing, because they affect only a small portion of the mouth. They are also the simplest solution for children.
- Braces: Braces also help maintain the space in and integrity of the jaw. Braces cut back on the need for invasive procedures in adulthood. They are also a good option if your child is missing more than one or two teeth because the jaw will otherwise lose a lot of its bone density.
- Crowns: If missing teeth are near the front portion of the mouth, crowns are a good option for repair. They conceal gaps left by missing teeth while preserving jaw space. If you worry that conspicuous gaps will hurt you child's self-confidence, a crown will eliminate that concern.
Congenitally Missing Permanent Teeth
Unfortunately, children who experience hypodontia as children face a lot of dental work in adulthood, as well. If no primary teeth formed, no permanent ones did, either. And up to 20% of adults who had all their baby teeth experience hypodontia of permanent teeth. This is usually discovered early in your dental history, with your first x-rays. So you should have a few years to plan and prepare how to deal with congenitally missing permanent teeth. Here are some treatment options to consider:
- Bridges: If you have only a few missing teeth, bridges or crowns are an option. Bridges are prosthetic teeth held in place through clasps attached to your real teeth. Crowns are more like caps that are cemented into place. If you had a crown as a child, you should consider getting a new one placed that blends with your larger, permanent teeth.
- Implants: Dental implants are prosthetic teeth that require surgery. The procedure is longer and more expensive than crowns and bridges, but it can be the most beneficial option. Implants use false roots to preserve gum tissue. If you have more than 2 missing teeth, this is the best way to go for overall oral health.
- Baby Teeth: Surprisingly, baby teeth don't have to come out. If you only have hypodontia of permanent theeth, and your primary teeth are still healthy, they won't fall out. You can choose to keep them permanently, or wait until you have the funds to pay for a cosmetic procedure such as bridges or implants.
Congenitally missing teeth is a problem that affects people of all ages. However, you can take an active approach to treating it. Whether or not it's the holiday season, make sure one of these procedures is on your wish list and start searching for a cosmetic dentist who can help you or your child deal with hypodontia. Or, find out here if you might be a candidate.