Most kids lose their first baby tooth between the ages of four and seven, depending on whether their baby teeth came in early or late. If your child still has all of their baby teeth at seven, it's reasonable for you to be concerned. Many medical conditions can be the cause of your child's retained baby teeth, and one of the most alarming is oligodontia. Here's what you need to know about it.
What is oligodontia?
Oligodontia is a very rare genetic syndrome that keeps the permanent teeth from developing. It is diagnosed when a child is missing more than 6 teeth; if less than 6 teeth are missing, the condition is called hypodontia.
The teeth that are present may have a wide variety of problems. These teeth may be misshapen, may have short roots, and may have underdeveloped enamel, as well as many other issues.
Is oligodontia always caused by genes?
Oligodontia usually has a genetic cause, but not always. Sometimes, it can be caused by environmental factors. For example, viral disease during pregnancy can cause oligodontia, as can metabolic imbalances. Having one child with oligodontia doesn't mean the rest of your family is at risk, but genetic screening will help give you peace of mind.
Is oligodontia a common problem?
Oligodontia is a very rare problem. There haven't been many studies done on oligodontia, so the exact number of people with the condition isn't known, but it's not a lot. Studies have shown that between 0.16% and 0.08% of people have oligodontia. Since it's so rare, your family dentist may not have seen a case of it before and may need to send your child to a specialist.
How is oligodontia diagnosed?
Other conditions can cause retained baby teeth, so the dentist will take x-rays of your child's mouth to determine if the permanent teeth are missing or not. On the x-ray image, it will be very obvious which teeth, if any, are missing. If more than 6 teeth are missing, your child has oligodontia. If less than 6 teeth (or no teeth) are missing, the dentist will need to consider other possibilities.
Can oligodontia be treated?
Dentists can't make missing teeth develop, but they can replace them with high quality prosthetics like dental implants. Dental implants look and feel just like natural teeth, so no one will know that your child has artificial teeth, unless you tell them. These implants are attached to your child's jawbone with metal posts, making them very secure.
Sometimes, your child will require other treatments before they can get dental implants. For example, their existing teeth may be crooked, rotated, or misaligned, which will necessitate orthodontic treatment. Once the teeth are straightened and put in their proper places, the implants can be surgically attached.
Is oligodontia just a cosmetic problem?
Oligodontia can occur on its own or it can occur as a symptom of a more serious genetic syndrome. When it occurs on its own, its a cosmetic problem, though a serious one. When it occurs as a part of another syndrome, it is cause for concern. Oligodontia is associated with many serious syndroms such as Pierre Robin sequence, Van der Woude syndrome, and Rieger Syndrome. If your dentist diagnoses your child with oligodontia, your next visit should be to your family doctor for further testing.
Oligodontia is a rare genetic syndrome that keeps the permanent teeth from forming. If your child's baby teeth aren't falling out when they're supposed to, you need to make an appointment with your dentist, like one at North Phoenix Pediatric Dentistry, right away. If your child does have oligodontia, early diagnosis and treatment is important.
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