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It is not easy for a layperson to determine if all their teeth or their children’s teeth have erupted. Most people are not even aware that they should keep an eye out for such a thing. After all, doesn’t everyone get all their teeth sooner or later?
Surprisingly not. Having a missing tooth because it just did not develop in the first place is surprisingly common. The most commonly affected tooth is the third molar or the wisdom tooth. These are technically a part of the 32 teeth that we count as being a complete set, however, they seem to be evolutionary remnants from a time when humans used to have much larger jaws and ate a predominantly raw diet.
There is no need for them any more in the mouth and not having them is actually a blessing. The problem arises when other teeth, such as the lateral incisor (the small tooth on either side of the front two teeth), the canine, or one of the premolars are missing. These are important teeth that serve a particular purpose in the arch.
Some of the problems caused by missing teeth include an unnatural and unaesthetic appearance, shift in the position of the other teeth, a reduction in the level of jaw bone development where the tooth should have been, spacing, speech problems and even difficulty in eating.
Why Do Some Teeth Never Develop At All?
The answer to this question lies in genetic inheritance. Some genes have been associated with the absence of one or more teeth. In fact, it has been noted that people will almost always have more than one tooth missing in their arch even if they were not aware of the fact.
In some cases, the primary tooth may not develop at all and thus the permanent successor also goes missing or in others, it may be limited to the absence of the permanent tooth.
Injury, infection and other such reasons may be responsible for damaging a tooth or causing an absence of eruption, however, they will not make the tooth disappear altogether.
Treatment Of Missing Teeth
Teeth which are genetically missing and thus have not developed at all require a different line of treatment than teeth that have been extracted. This is because it is almost certain that when the patients come in for treatment, there will be no available space for a tooth to be replaced.
It is the natural tendency of all teeth to shift towards the centre and thus all the teeth behind the missing ones move in to fill up the space of the absent tooth.
Doctors will base the treatment plan on the missing tooth whether it is in the front of the jaw or the back of the jaw, the economic resources available to the patient, the age of the patient and the other complications that have developed as a result of the tooth being absent.
The good thing though is that a number of treatment plans are available to patients with missing teeth which provide an acceptable solution.