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Our Dental Blog

Understanding and Managing Congenitally Missing Teeth

Missing teeth are not just an issue related to aging or dental trauma; some individuals are born with congenitally missing teeth – a condition also known as hypodontia. There are many intricacies associated with congenitally missing teeth. Let’s explore the implications of these missing teeth and treatment options that are available to replace them.

The Impact of Congenitally Missing Teeth

The impact of congenitally missing teeth is more than just aesthetics. Missing teeth can influence oral health and function as well as psychological well-being.

Impact on Oral Health

The absence of one or more teeth can have a significant impact on a person’s oral health. Some of the key concerns include:

  • Altered Dental Development: Missing teeth can lead to misalignment and improper spacing of the remaining teeth, affecting dental development and potentially leading to malocclusion (misaligned bite). Malocclusion, in turn, has been associated with a variety of health issues including TJ pain and posture issues.
  • Speech Difficulties: Teeth are essential for articulation. The absence of teeth, especially front teeth, can affect speech, making certain sounds difficult to pronounce.
  • Jawbone Deterioration: Teeth stimulate the jawbone through chewing. Without this stimulation, the bone can deteriorate over time, affecting facial structure and oral health.

Impact on Aesthetics and Psychological Well-being

The aesthetic impact of congenitally missing teeth can be profound, especially when front teeth are involved. Missing teeth can lead to self-consciousness, reduced self-esteem, and social anxiety. This can affect personal and professional relationships and overall quality of life. The psychological impact underscores the importance of addressing missing teeth not only for physical health but also for mental and emotional well-being.

Treatment Options for Congenitally Missing Teeth

Fortunately, there are several treatment options available for managing missing teeth, each tailored to the individual’s specific needs and the extent of the condition. Some of the most common treatments include:

Dental Implants: Dental implants are widely regarded as the gold standard for replacing congenitally missing teeth. This treatment involves the surgical placement of titanium implants into the jawbone, providing a sturdy foundation for artificial teeth. Not only do dental implants look and function like natural teeth, but they also offer long-term durability and stability. By integrating with the jawbone through a process called osseointegration, implants provide a reliable solution that can last a lifetime with proper care. Moreover, dental implants prevent bone loss in the jaw and help maintain the structural integrity of surrounding teeth. While the process requires surgery and a healing period, many patients find the results well worth the investment in terms of both aesthetics and oral function.

The drawback to dental implants is that they cannot be placed in the jaw until it’s mature. This means that children with congenitally missing teeth cannot receive dental implants to replace their missing teeth. Children often need an intermediate solution such as a Maryland bridge or orthodontics until their jaw is ready to receive dental implants.

Additionally dental implants can be outside the price range of many people, though payment plans that allow people to buy now and pay later – such as CareCredit – have made dental implant more affordable.

Dental Bridges: Dental bridges offer a non-surgical option for replacing congenitally missing teeth, making them a popular choice among patients seeking a less invasive solution. This treatment involves anchoring artificial teeth, known as pontics, to adjacent healthy teeth with the support of dental crowns. By spanning the gap left by missing teeth, bridges restore both function and aesthetics to the smile. While bridges provide a fixed and natural-looking solution, they do require the alteration of adjacent healthy teeth to accommodate the crowns. Additionally, proper oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are essential to ensure the longevity of dental bridges.

Since healthy teeth need to be altered in order for a dental bridge to be placed, it’s not the favored solution for replacing missing teeth. Once the teeth adjacent to the bridge are altered there is no going back.

A less invasive approach to a traditional bridge is the Maryland bridge. This bridge is bonded to the backs of the adjacent teeth without modifying the teeth themselves. This means that as the child grows up and the jaw matures the Maryland bridge can be removed and replaced with a dental implant.

Removable Partial Dentures: For individuals seeking a more affordable and less invasive option, removable partial dentures offer a practical solution for replacing congenitally missing teeth. Partial dentures consist of artificial teeth attached to a gum-colored acrylic base, which can be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance. While not as stable as dental implants or bridges, partial dentures provide a functional and aesthetic improvement for patients with multiple missing teeth. However, some individuals may experience discomfort or difficulty with speech and chewing initially, and adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit. Despite these limitations, partial dentures remain a viable option for those seeking a removable and budget-friendly solution for tooth replacement.

Orthodontic Treatment: In some cases braces can be used to move the teeth in order to close the gap. Treatments like Invisalign clear aligners may also be used in conjunction with any of the treatment methods above to move the teeth into better position if the teeth have misaligned due to the missing teeth.

If you live in Boston and are looking for a dentist near you in Back Bay to discuss congenitally missing teeth, our dentist would be glad to welcome you. With two prosthodontists on the team, our dental office has the specialization needed to treat missing teeth and restore oral function.

Previously recognized as "Best Dentist"

Boston Magazine Best Dentist
396 Commonwealth Ave., 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02215

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