Gardner Syndrome Teeth: Early Oral Implications

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Gardner syndrome is a rare genetic disorder discovered by a college professor of genetics, Eldon Gardner in 1951. Since it's classified as a subtype of familial adenomatous polyposis, people who suffer from it may eventually develop colorectal cancer at a young age, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. This inherited disorder causes a defect in a gene that regulates protein production, namely adenomatous polyposis coli (APC). This defect in the APC gene allows certain cells to multiply in a disorderly manner. Gardner syndrome teeth are known as supernumerary teeth or additional teeth beyond the normal dentition. These extra teeth are often identified at a routine dental visit before the patient is aware that they have the disorder.

In addition to supernumerary teeth, other oral implications may also be present in Gardner syndrome. Osteomas (bone growing on bone) and odontomas (benign tumors comprised of multiple tooth components), can also be markers in this syndrome, notes a study in the International Journal of Medical Sciences (IJMS). Besides the oral signs, the other effects of this genetic mutation can be serious and life-threatening.

Markers of Gardner Syndrome

As mentioned, this rare disease is a hereditary syndrome. Its diagnosis is often characterized by the presence of multiple colon polyps, osteomas, and a multitude of soft tissue tumors. They can include fibromas, desmoid tumors, sebaceous cysts, and lesions on the retina of the eye. The colonic polyposis results in multiple colon and intestinal polyps that have a 100 percent chance of becoming malignant, so early intervention is necessary to prolong the life of the patient, explains IJMS. Gardner syndrome teeth and the presence of osteomas, which may cause protrusion of the bite or occlusion, should alert the dentist to screen for associated features in patients who currently exhibit no other symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Although not meant to diagnose this particular syndrome, routine dental screenings are recommended by age 3 and may reveal some of the tell-tale signs of Gardner syndrome. At-home oral care for kids should begin at a similarly young age. Brush your child's teeth with a toothbrush, such as the Colgate My First toothbrush. The toothbrush head is specially sized for small children whose teeth are still developing

At the dentist you can expect a clinical exam and X-rays, very often a panoramic film taken extraorally or outside of the mouth. If additional diagnostic tests are needed, further tests can include blood tests or additional X-rays of the mandible as well as the long bones of the body.

Once diagnosis is confirmed, frequent visits will be required to monitor the skin, eyes and colon by the appropriate medical specialists, including oncologists. Regular and frequent colonoscopies are necessary to remove polyps and to screen for malignancies. Very often, a total removal of the colon may be indicated.

Gardner syndrome teeth may be the first sign that someone has inherited this syndrome. However, having a family history warrants a consultation with a genetic specialist.

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