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What All Parents Should Know About Anodontia And Hypodontia

Anodontia may sound like a luxurious perfume, but it's actually a congenital dental condition. While anodontia and a similar disorder known as hypodontia are not life-threatening, they are conditions which often require intensive dental treatment. Thus, it's important that parents are aware that these conditions exist, so they know what to do and what to expect should they notice them in their children.

What are Anodontia and Hypodontia?

Anodontia is a condition in which a child is born without any adult teeth. In some cases, the child does develop baby teeth, but once they fall out, there are no adult teeth to replace them. Other children never develop baby teeth or adult teeth. Anodontia is a congenital disease, which means a child is born with it.

Hypodontia is a similar genetic condition in which only some of the teeth are missing. This is far more common than anodontia, and most children who have the disease are missing between 1 and 6 teeth. Most cases involve only the permanent teeth. A child would have a normal set of baby teeth, but be missing some of the adult teeth. Sometimes the term "Oligodontia" is used to refer to cases of hypodontia in which more than 6, but not all, of the teeth are missing.

How do you know if your child has anodontia or hypodontia?

Parents whose children have neither deciduous or permanent teeth generally discover anodontia when their children are about 1 year old. Most babies' first teeth erupt when they are about 6 months old, but some don't get their first teeth for a few months after this. If a baby reaches 1 year of age and does not have any teeth, a physician will generally take x-rays to determine if there are teeth present in the jaw. This x-ray may reveal that the child has anodontia or hypodontia.

Since most children with these conditions have normal baby teeth, many parents don't discover their children have anodontia or hypodontia until they are 6 or 7 years old and begin losing their baby teeth. The baby teeth fall out, and adult teeth fail to grow in their place. Sometimes adult teeth don't grow in immediately after a baby tooth is lost, and that's okay. If it has been several months since your child lost a tooth and you're worried, bring the issue up to your dentist at your child's next checkup. Your dentist may want to take x-rays to determine whether or not the adult tooth is missing from your child's jaw.

How are anodontia and hypodontia treated?

The treatment your dentist recommends will depend on the number of teeth your child is missing as well as which teeth are missing. When only one or two teeth are missing, your dentist may be able to correct the abnormality with braces, which are used to push the teeth your child does have closer together, eliminating the gap left by the missing tooth or teeth.

In many cases, hypondontia is treated with dental implants. Implants are titanium rods that can be surgically inserted into your child's jaw and used to support a ceramic tooth that looks and performs just like a natural tooth. Implants are often seen as the ideal solution for missing teeth, since they prevent the other teeth from shifting and, when inserted properly, can last a lifetime.

Complete anodontia is harder to treat, as the child will need a complete set of false teeth. Dental implants are used for many patients, though dentures are a possibility, too.

Anodontia and hypodontia can make it harder for a child to eat and speak properly. If you think your child may have one of these conditions, it's important to act promptly. The sooner your dentist can begin correcting for the defect, the easier time your child will have adapting to the required dentures or implants.

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