What to do when permanent teeth don’t grow

Question: The teeth on either side of my daughter’s upper two teeth never developed. I’ve been told that we should access orthodontic treatment to create a space on either side, followed by the fitting of dental implants. I was just wondering why the teeth hadn’t come through in the first place, and whether this course of action is usually seen as being the best.

Answer: The failure of the two teeth concerned, known as lateral incisor teeth, is one of the most common genetic dental problems. This is to say that it is a condition which is passed on through a family, from generation to generation. Whilst it is slightly more common to have a wisdom tooth missing, with up to 20% of people reporting this condition, it is still true to say that 5% of people lack either a second premolar or a lateral incisor.

It’s clear, then, that your daughter is far from being alone in having to face up to this problem, and what this also means is that dentists have had the opportunity to develop treatments and techniques aimed at dealing with the situation. The first thing to note is that not having incisors of this kind is definitely a problem which has to be dealt with. The fact that one or two teeth are missing can have a knock on effect on the rest of the teeth in your daughter’s mouth, altering the line of the teeth and also having a detrimental effect upon the way all of the teeth actually function.

For example, if the lateral incisors are missing, then this can have the effect of causing the canines on either side to shift in an attempt to fill the space, and this has the doubly negative effect of looking completely wrong and interfering with the front and top jaws achieving a true and even bite.

The good news, however, is that your daughters problems can be solved via a combination of orthodontic techniques and teeth replacement. The first part of this process entails shifting the position of the top row of teeth utilising orthodontic braces. Once the correct positioning has been achieved, and the space created, the lateral incisors can be replaced using the dental implant technique. Implants are a treatment which replaces both the root and the crown of the missing tooth in a manner which is both natural looking and permanent.

One of the chief advantages of implant treatment is that the teeth in question do not have to be attached to any of the teeth around them. Instead, the treatment starts with the connecting of a metal pin to the bone of the jaw. After a while, this pin will actually become an organic part of the body, growing into your daughter’s jawbone itself. When this has happened, a custom made dental crown will be attached to the pin, replacing the missing tooth in a manner which looks completely natural and which, if looked after properly, should last a lifetime.

Although it is clearly distressing for your daughter to have inherited this problem, it is not something which a modern dental surgery would in any way struggle to cope with. By combining orthodontic braces with implant treatment, your dentist will be able to fully restore your daughters smile, allowing her to get on with the rest of her life.

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