It should be common practice to have your children screened by the age of seven to see whether they show signs of future teeth problems. Some dental issues could make them candidates for orthodontic treatment, and in many cases it's better to address them earlier rather than later.
Your child may even show indications of some of the more unusual problems. Here are four you've probably never heard much about, what they are and how dental professionals deal with them.
Anodontia is an extremely rare genetic condition in which the patient is missing all of his teeth. They simply never grow in, and although it can affect baby teeth, it typically only affects permanent teeth.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), a child suffering from anodontia will most often never grow any more teeth after losing the primary set. However, dentists more frequently see cases of hypodontia, the nonexistence of between one and six teeth; or oligodontia, the absence of more than six, but not all.
Little can be done in cases like this beyond implants or dentures, but it's important to take certain steps early for the purposes of a child's good oral health, ability to eat, speak and breathe normally, jaw and facial structure and ultimately self-esteem. Kids with this condition often also have ectodermal dysplastic syndrome, which is a group of more than 150 genetic disorders with varying symptoms.
Often associated with the shape of an eagle's talon, according to the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association (JCDA), this refers to a claw-like growth that develops at the back of one of your child's teeth. It usually happens in the front of the mouth, either at the back of the incisors or the canines, and can cause teeth problems such as:
- malocclusion or bad bite.
- crowding of the mouth that complicates the eruption of other teeth.
- irritation of the gums, cheeks and tongue.
- accumulation of plaque in the groove between the cusp and its host tooth.
The cusp itself may or may not contain tooth pulp, so dentists have to treat them carefully. The most common treatment is to grind it down, but if the cusp contains pulp your dentist might recommend root canal treatment as well.
As explained by National Institutes of Health (NIH), tooth gemination is similar to tooth fusion, and happens when two teeth develop from a single tooth bud, causing an extra-large or otherwise disfigured tooth that has two chambers of tooth pulp but only one root. This can cause problems such as a bad bite, tooth decay in the area where the two chambers are joined, or overcrowding in the mouth that affects the eruption of other teeth.
If the tooth isn't too wide, most dental professionals will recommend leaving it alone to see if it sheds on its own. If it causes a problem for nearby teeth, however, your dentist is likely to suggest extraction as the best course of action.
Geminated teeth can't be flossed, so although the tooth is present, your child should use an antibacterial mouthwash such as Colgate® Phos-Flur® Rinse to maintain oral hygiene.
Supernumerary Teeth (Hyperdontia)
Just as hypodontia is the existence of too few teeth, hyperdontia refers to having too many teeth. Evidence of supernumerary teeth can be found anywhere in your child's mouth, but most cases involve just one additional tooth, according to Bellevue Specialized Dental Care. Often, supernumerary teeth don't actually erupt but develop in the gum, which can delay the appearance of other teeth and cause overcrowding and crooked eruption. Your dentist will usually recommend having these teeth extracted, but orthodontia may be a compatible option as well.
If your child shows signs of any of these teeth problems, it's best to get started early with a professional examination.