Hypodontia: Replacing Congenitally Missing Teeth

patient with Hypodontia

If you are someone dealing with hypodontia, then this is likely a term with which you’re already very familiar. In short, it means that due to heredity, you have not developed one or several permanent teeth. When teeth fail to grow, you are left with an adult smile with open spaces in it. Of course, this is not ideal, as you’d like your smile to be a feature with all of its teeth, so it’s uniform and beautiful and functional as well. If you have been exploring options to address the openings, you may be considering dental implants. Dr. James Fondriest, your Chicago implant dentist, is here to explain how this is possible and answer some of the most common questions regarding the procedure.

More About Hypodontia

Hypodontia is the single most common developmental dental anomaly. Individuals who have the condition often exhibit other irregularities as well, such as transposition, impaction of the canines, and microdontia (teeth that are too small in proportion to the rest of the smile).

Statistically, the teeth most likely to be missing in a hypodontia case are the upper lateral incisors and the lower 2nd premolars. However, missing teeth vary more in individuals with hypodontia related to genetic syndromes. Additionally, hypodontia is more common in females than males – but it only occurs in 6.4% of the overall population, according to a study in the Journal of Orthodontics.

What Causes Hypodontia?

There has been much speculation and research over the decades regarding the cause of hypodontia. In general, experts believe the condition is related to genetic and environmental factors. Unfortunately, the exact cause remains unclear.

Hypodontia and Related Conditions

Though a cause has not yet been discovered, experts have found a link between hypodontia and other associated conditions. Individuals with hypodontia are more likely to have:

  • Cleft lip and palate: Some infants are born with openings in the lip or roof of the mouth. This developmental defect can be corrected with oral surgery.
  • Diastema: Those with hypodontia are more likely to have gaps and spaces between the teeth.
  • Delayed eruption: Typically, the first tooth erupts between the ages of four and 18 months. Children with hypodontia may not develop teeth until much later.
  • Ectopic canines: Children with this condition have canines which follow an abnormal path of eruption. This can lead to impaction and other dental issues.
  • Conical-shaped teeth: Certain rare disorders, such as tooth and nail syndrome, can result in cone-shaped teeth.

Dental Implants for Hypodontia

Currently, dental implants are regarded as the best (and most successful) option for addressing hypodontia. Implants are tiny threaded posts that are placed into the jawbone to replace missing teeth roots. By replacing the roots, your Chicago implant dentist can strengthen the jawbone and prevent future atrophy.

Whether you are missing a single tooth or several teeth due to hypodontia, dental implants can offer an excellent solution. Implants are versatile, and can be used to support a wide range of restorations:

  • Single implant and crown: Some patients may only have one congenitally missing tooth. This can easily be replaced with a single implant and dental crown.
  • Implant-supported bridge: If hypodontia has left you with a row of missing teeth, an implant-supported bridge can fill the gap in your smile.
  • Full-arch teeth replacement with implants: Though it is rare, anodontia is a congenital condition characterized by the absence of all teeth. Cases like this can be addressed with removable implant-supported dentures or fixed full-arch solutions, such as the All-on-4 method.

Of course, those considering dental implant treatment for hypodontia must meet certain criteria. For example, the jawbone must be fully developed and strong enough to accommodate implants. In the section below, your Chicago implant dentist will explore these criteria in a bit more detail.

Your Chicago Implant Dentist Answers Questions about Hypodontia

It’s important to be well-informed when considering dental implants. Here are some of the most common questions we hear at our practice regarding treatment for hypodontia.

Question: May I rely on dental implants to replace my teeth that simply never developed? Or, are implants something that are only appropriate for missing teeth that are due to the loss of previously existing natural teeth?

Answer: While we will need to see you to talk about your oral health and to ensure you make a good candidate for implants, this is often the best choice when you’re replacing a missing tooth. Remember that you are not only replacing the part that you can see but also the roots, which provides your smile with many benefits. Existing roots help to protect your jaw health (and they offer you unsurpassable strength and stability for the function of your tooth).

Question: My child has a missing tooth. Can we replace the tooth with a dental implant? I’ve heard that implants aren’t an option until a child is older.

Answer: We may be able to discuss this for individuals 18 years of age and older. However, in most instances, jaw tissue does not stop growing until 18 or even older. The placement of implants is only safe for a jaw that’s done developing. We will need to make a final determination by meeting with individual patients.

Question: Will the dental implant and restoration look like my own natural tooth that would have developed if I was not someone dealing with hypodontia?

Answer: Of course! We practice artistic dentistry, which means we provide implants and restorations that are not only functional but that also blend beautifully with your smile. Just by placing an implant, the teeth around it will be made stronger.

Contact Your Chicago Implant Dentist Today

Don’t let hypodontia hold you back. Implants can provide a complete and beautiful smile you can enjoy for your lifetime! Feel free to schedule a visit with your Chicago implant dentist by calling (847) 234-0517. We are proud to serve residents of the metropolitan Chicago area as well as those in the North Shore and Northwest suburbs.Want to learn more about implants for hypodontia? Schedule a consultation with your Chicago implant dentist today. Call us at 847-234-0517.