What Is Oligodontia?


An individual who has oligodontia was born without six or more permanent or primary teeth. This condition is extremely rare and, according to a study published in Case Reports in Dentistry, it affects 0.3 percent of the population. These missing teeth can create both aesthetic and functional problems.

Genetic Causes

Some of the genes that control tooth development also relate to other parts of the body. Therefore, disruption in tooth development can be associated with other genetically determined syndromes that patients are born with. A study published in the European Journal of Prosthodontics reports that the condition has been identified in patients with Down syndrome and Van der Woude syndrome. It may be caused by mutations in the MSX1 or the PAX9 genes.

Associated Risks and Issues

Individuals with six or more teeth that never develop may be at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. A study published in Scientific Reports found that the same genes responsible for the dental anomaly are associated with colorectal cancer cells.

Oligodontia is often nonsyndromic, meaning it may not cause any direct symptoms. However, the missing teeth may result in speech impediments, chewing difficulty and altered dental and facial growth, states the Case Reports in Dentistry study.

Teeth Replacement Process

The replacement of the missing teeth is a complex process that often requires several specialists, including an orthodontist, an oral surgeon, a periodontist and a prosthodontist. The areas of the jawbone where teeth did not form will likely be weak and underdeveloped, meaning bone grafting may be necessary to restore strength. The bite may also be misaligned and require orthodontic treatment, such as braces.

There are several methods of replacing teeth and filling out an individual's smile. For example, dentists can provide dental implants, dentures or bridges where the natural tooth should have developed.

Other genetic conditions that result in missing teeth are hypodontia (the absence of one to six teeth) and anodontia (the absence of all teeth). If you or someone you know is missing teeth, there are numerous solutions available. With your dentist, you can determine the best treatment plan and enjoy a healthy set of teeth.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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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.