What Is Anodontia?

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A toothless grin is cute on a baby, but when you meet an adult with a holey smile, you may wonder the reason behind it. Did the teeth fall out or were they never there in the first place? Anodontia, a genetic condition, may be the cause of the gaps of missing teeth.

Definition

Anodontia is a rare genetic disorder characterized by the absence of all teeth, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. It is caused by a genetic defect, but the specific gene mutation is not known. This congenital absence of teeth can cause difficulty because each tooth plays an important role in the mouth. Having any missing teeth creates a space in which it can create a dilemma with regard to aesthetics and functionality.

According to a study published by the Dental Research Journal, women are more likely to have undeveloped teeth (also known as dental agenesis) than men. The male-to-female ratio is approximately 2 to 3.

Diagnosis

To determine what teeth are missing, a panoramic X-ray is needed. Dentists use these key images to see exactly which teeth are present and which are absent. It gives the clinician a view of what is happening beneath the gums. Since completely lacking teeth is very rare, X-rays can pinpoint whether there are at least a few teeth hidden beneath the gums. Hypodontia and oligodontia, though still rare, are more common conditions that cause patients to be missing a few teeth, but not all of them.

Treatment

To improve the appearance of a toothless smile, a prosthetic replacement may be in order. Because of the social stigma attached to having missing teeth, many patients may choose to seek cosmetic treatment, such as dentures, bridges or implants. This dental abnormality can affect speech and eating, so these treatment options may help functionality as well.

Oral Care

Visit your dentist for a complete oral examination to help identify anodontia. Then, the appropriate treatment can be decided upon between the dental health professional and the patient. Even if you don't have teeth, taking care of your oral health is key. Swish with a mouthwash like Colgate Total Mouthwash for Gum Health, which offers advanced gum protection for 45 percent stronger, healthier gums.

If you have this condition, it's OK to smile! Embrace your unique grin or seek cosmetic dental treatments to boost your confidence.

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