Long Wait For Tooth Eruption? Your Child's Tooth May Be Congenitally Missing

Dentist Articles

It is estimated that 20% of the human population is born with at least one adult tooth that never develops. If you think that the loss of your child's baby teeth are delayed, or if your child has lost a baby tooth, but it's taking an exceptionally long time for the adult tooth to breach their gum line, congenitally missing teeth may be the source of your concern. Read on to learn everything you need to know about congenitally missing teeth in children.

Why Does It Happen?

There are various causes of congenitally missing teeth, and scientists don't yet understand all of them. Sometimes, missing adult teeth are the result of a hereditary trait -- the condition is passed down to the child from somebody else in their family.

Other times, children's adult teeth are missing due to a medical condition. There are over 49 medical conditions known to affect the development of teeth, including down syndrome, hypothyroidism, apert syndrome, and progeria. If you suspect that your child has one or more congenitally missing teeth, it's a good idea to consult with a pediatrician about ruling out a medical condition as the cause.

Yet another reason scientists think may be responsible for the large percentage of congenitally missing teeth among children -- and perhaps the most interesting one -- is that humans could be in the midst of an evolutionary change. Researchers who have studied this theory believe that, in the future, the normal tooth count for an adult will be 20 instead of 32!

How Can You Tell For Sure That Your Child Is Missing An Adult Tooth?

It can be difficult to determine whether or not your child has a congenitally missing tooth because there is such a wide variance in the amount of time it takes children to lose their baby teeth, and how long it takes their adult teeth to erupt. In general, most children begin losing their baby teeth around the age of 6, but they could also lose them as young as 4 years old or as old as 9. Once a child has lost a baby tooth, it should take anywhere from 1 week to 6 months for their adult tooth to begin to protrude through their gums. 

The easiest way to identify whether or not your child has a congenitally missing tooth is to bring them to the dentist regularly, starting in their first year of life. The dentist will recognize any out-of-the-ordinary growth patterns in your child's teeth, and can perform an x-ray that will clearly show whether or not there are adult teeth present below your child's gum line.

What Are The Treatment Options For Congenitally Missing Teeth?

While it's startling to learn, there's no need to worry if your child has a congenitally missing tooth. With good oral hygiene and regular dental visits, and without the presence of an adult tooth pushing against it from below, your child's baby tooth could stay in position for the duration of their life.

If, however, your child happens to lose their baby tooth due to an injury or decay, then your dentist will want to take some measures to keep the surrounding teeth from shifting and trying to fill the void left by the missing tooth. 

A dental implant is a great permanent solution for a congenitally missing tooth, but the procedure can't be done until your child's jawbone is fully developed. This usually happens around the age of 18 in girls, and around the age of 20 in boys. Until then, your dentist will likely preserve the space for the future implant by fitting your child with braces, or installing a bridge -- an apparatus that holds an artificial tooth in place by fitting securely over surrounding teeth.

If you've been waiting and waiting for your child to lose a baby tooth, or if they've already lost a baby tooth, but its adult counterpart is nowhere in sight, they may have a congenitally missing tooth. There's no need to worry, though. As long as your child takes care of their teeth and sees a dentist regularly, their condition will pose them no long-term complications whatsoever.

To learn more about this topic, speak with a pediatric dental specialist.


16 October 2014

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