Rare Dental Disorders: Anodontia

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When people are born, both the deciduous teeth, better known as baby teeth, and the secondary dentition, the set of 32 permanent adult teeth, are already fully formed. The baby teeth typically begin coming in after a few months of life, and as they begin falling out around 5-7 years of age, they are replaced with the permanent teeth.

Some people, however, have a rare genetic disorder known as anodontia. This usually means the child has no permanent teeth waiting to drop into place after the baby teeth fall out, but sometimes they don't have even have the baby teeth. Hypodontia is the term used when there are only one to six permanent teeth missing whereas oligodontia is used when there are more than six teeth missing.

These dental conditions do not usually occur on their own. More often, they are part of a bigger medical condition known as ectodermal dysplasias, which affects the skin and nerves. This is not a single disorder; rather it is a group of nearly 160 different conditions that can affect hair and nail growth, the apocrine, or sweat glands, and the teeth.

These genetic conditions most often manifest themselves as Mulibrey Nanism syndrome, which is a type of dwarfism; cherubism, which a progressive disease in which the mandible, or the jaw, swells; Gorlin-Chaudhry-Moss Syndrome, a rare disorder that cause both physical and mental impairment; and Acro-dermato-ungual-lacrimal-tooth syndrome, commonly called by the acronym ADULT syndrome, which affects the feet, hands, skin pigmentation, teeth formation, the nails, and eye disorders.

How Is Anodontia Diagnosed?

Dental x-rays are required to render an official diagnosis. An x-ray can show whether or not there are baby teeth and all, some, or none of the permanent teeth except for the wisdom teeth. The wisdom teeth buds cannot be seen on an x-ray until the child is about 12 years of age.

How Is Anodontia Treated?

Unfortunately, anodontia cannot be cured. While scientists are working on creating a way for the human body to generate new teeth, which would be useful for not only anodontia sufferers but the millions of others with lost teeth, this technology is still many years off.

A child with anodontia must be fitted for full or partial dentures. This process must be repeated regularly as they grow until adulthood, at which point the dentures will need to be replaced every 5-10 years.

As teeth are essential to proper nutrition as well as self-esteem, it is important the child sees a dentist regularly to ensure the dentures are the proper size and fit for their mouth as they mature. To learn more about this condition, visit a dentist like Dr. Robert Petrtyl