Tooth gemination, also called double teeth, is a dental anomaly describing an oversized or abnormally shaped tooth that seems to be comprised of two teeth. If you've heard the phrase or noticed an irregularity in your smile, you may be curious to learn more about the condition and how it can be treated.
The tooth bud, also called the tooth germ, is a group of cells that eventually forms a tooth. Each bud or germ will normally result in one tooth. Gemination occurs when a single bud splits and forms two teeth. Poland's Wroclaw Medical University explains that the resulting tooth has two crowns but only one root. In the dental arch (the arrangement of teeth on the jaw), it appears as one tooth.
Although sometimes confused with tooth gemination, tooth fusion is a different condition. In the case of the latter, two adjacent tooth buds begin to develop separately and join in the final stage of tooth development. The fused teeth take up as much room in the mouth as two separate teeth.
Tooth fusion and gemination are rare, according to the dental textbook Paediatric Dentistry. Studies of Caucasian populations determined the prevalence of these anomalies is between 0.5 percent and 1.6 percent in the primary dentition (baby teeth). In the permanent dentition (adult teeth), the prevalence is much lower: between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent. Gender does not affect the likelihood of developing these conditions, and some researchers suggest they may be linked to genetics.
Diagnosing Tooth Gemination
Dentists will often begin a diagnosis with a visual inspection. To determine whether the tooth is geminated or fused, the dentist may need to count the number of teeth in the mouth. Frontiers in Physiology reports that people with geminated teeth display a normal number of teeth since the oversized tooth is counted as one, while people with tooth fusion appear to have fewer than average teeth.
X-ray images can also help dentists diagnose gemination and fusion, since X-rays reveal the interior structure of the teeth. Geminated teeth usually show a pulp cavity that's either partially or completely united, and fused teeth have completely separate pulp cavities.
What to Do About Geminated Teeth
Double teeth most frequently develop within the incisors, or front teeth, reports Wroclaw Medical University. This means the abnormality may be visible in a patient's smile. Additionally, the oversized teeth may crowd the mouth and cause other teeth to become crooked. This can lead to bite problems that may need orthodontic treatment.
Treatment for geminated teeth varies. If the tooth is small, a dentist may recommend leaving it alone. If the geminated tooth is so large that it causes problems in the mouth, it may need to be extracted.
After an extraction, dentists have various methods of replacing the tooth. These include dental bridges and dental implants. Dental bridges are prosthetic teeth that are anchored in place by the adjacent teeth, while dental implants are prosthetic teeth that are surgically implanted in the jaw.
Geminated teeth are unusual, but they can be treated. After examining your teeth and your particular condition, your dentist can determine which, if any, of these treatments is suitable for you.