Hyperdontia is a term that means extra teeth, and it's an unusual condition that occurs in just a few children and adults. The extra teeth may remain hidden in the gum, so often the first sign of the condition is when permanent teeth fail to erupt. Dentists also call the condition supernumerary teeth. Why does this condition happen, though, and are there treatments?
What's the Reason Behind Extra Teeth?
In most cases, dental experts don't know why children develop supernumerary teeth. Very rarely, they're a symptom of a genetic disorder like Gardner's Syndrome, but if a child is otherwise healthy, the cause is unclear. Sometimes the parents also had supernumerary teeth as children.
According to the Journal of Conservative Dentistry, 0.1 to 3.8 percent of the population have hyperdontia, and it seems to be more common in permanent teeth than baby teeth. However, this might be because parents sometimes don't notice extra baby teeth. The most common site for supernumerary teeth is at the front of the upper jaw.
Do Extra Teeth Have to Be Removed?
Hyperdontia can cause dental problems, and your dentist may decide it's best to remove the extra teeth. When supernumerary teeth remain in the gum, they can cause overcrowding and delay the eruption of the other teeth, or cause them to erupt crookedly. On the other hand, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry explains that if extra primary teeth erupt normally, they can usually be left to fall out along with the others.
The best treatment for supernumerary teeth depends on the type of tooth and whether it has erupted or remains in the gum. Often, it's only when the dentist x-rays the mouth that the supernumerary teeth are discovered, or they're noticed due to the effect they have on normal teeth. The dentist may adopt a wait-and-watch approach. He or she may check on the position of the extra teeth as well as the development of the normal teeth, or he or she may advise an extraction. Here are some reasons parents and dentists may want to remove an extra tooth:
- Delays the eruption of a permanent tooth
- Makes the area difficult to clean, thus increasing the risk of decay or gum disease
- Affects the position of surrounding teeth
- Leaving the tooth alone is likely to lead to complications
- Affects the appearance and function of the teeth
Also, an orthodontist may remove supernumerary teeth prior to beginning orthodontic treatment.
Oral Care for Children with Extra Teeth
Regular dental appointments, brushing twice a day and flossing are especially important for children with supernumerary teeth. Brush your child's teeth with a soft-bristled, child's toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. If your little one puts up a fuss when it's brushing time, add a brush or paste to the routine that features a fun cartoon character.
Though one or two extra primary teeth may seem a little strange, if they aren't causing problems or affecting a child's self-esteem, it's best to let nature take its course and wait for them to fall out. However, if supernumerary teeth don't erupt and affect the development of other teeth, extraction may be the best option. In either case, regular observation of the teeth by a dentist helps prevent many of the problems hyperdontia may cause.