What Is Hyperdontia?

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Have you ever met someone with a smile full of what looked like too many teeth? This oral health condition is defined as hyperdontia, which can mean a person has one or a dozen more teeth than the usual 32 permanent teeth.

How Many Teeth Is Too Many?

The standard numbers for teeth are 20 primary teeth and 32 adult teeth. The cause of supernumerary (or more than the usual number) teeth is unknown, but certain conditions and genetic factors can increase its likelihood. According to the European Journal of Dentistry, men are slightly more likely than women to have an overgrowth of teeth. The people with the highest rates of hyperdontia are those who also live with a rare condition such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Gardner's syndrome, or a genetic variation such as Down syndrome. Children born with a cleft lip or palate may also have supernumerary teeth.

Most cases are mild, and usually involve only one or two extra teeth. In more severe cases, a patient may have crowded teeth, or permanent teeth that come in displaced or fail to come in at all. Sometimes overgrowth can cause facial deformities or speech impediments.

Risks of Hyperdontia

Most of the time the patient is unaware of a supernumerary tooth or two until they have an oral exam or X-rays. Hyperdontia can sometimes be painful or hinder chewing if it involves many extra teeth. According to RDH Magazine, tooth overgrowth can lead to other oral health issues, such as:

  • Impactions, where a tooth doesn't grow in straight and can put pressure on the teeth around it
  • Malocclusion, or bite problems
  • Primary teeth blocked from growing in properly
  • Cysts and tumors
  • Increase risk of infection, periodontal disease, and tooth decay from difficulty cleaning crowded teeth

Treatment of Supernumerary Teeth

Treatment varies from person to person, but can include taking a "wait and see" approach, tooth extraction and orthodontic treatment. Since hyperdontia seems to occur predominantly around the permanent anterior incisors of the maxillary arch (next to your top front teeth), it can be an orthodontic and a cosmetic concern. It is always best to talk with your dental health professional about the proper treatment for you.

Regardless of how many teeth you have, getting regular checkups and maintaining good oral hygiene habits can help keep your teeth healthy. Brush two times a day and ask your dentist for flossing tips if you have any teeth that are overcrowded or difficult to clean between.

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What Are The Different Parts Of A Tooth?

Each tooth has several distinct parts; here is an overview of each part:

  • Enamel – this is the outer and hardest part of the tooth that has the most mineralized tissue in the body. It can be damaged by decay if teeth are not cared for properly.

  • Dentin – this is the layer of the tooth under the enamel. If decay makes it through the enamel, it next attacks the dentin — where millions of tiny tubes lead directly to the dental pulp.

  • Pulp – this is the soft tissue found in the center of all teeth, where the nerve tissue and blood vessels are located. If tooth decay reaches the pulp, you usually feel pain and may require a root canal procedure.