Tooth decay, gum disease, and injury are common causes of missing teeth. Some people are born without certain teeth, and this condition is called congenitally missing teeth. Genetic factors cause congenitally missing teeth and this condition is often seen in generations of a family. The most common missing teeth are wisdom teeth, upper lateral incisors, and second premolars/bicuspids.
Certain systemic conditions, usually inherited disorders, also result in multiple missing teeth. One of the most common genetic defects affecting teeth is called ectodermal dysplasia. Individuals affected by this syndrome often have missing teeth. A patient with congenitally missing teeth associated with ectodermal dysplasia should have the dental problems evaluated early in life, and a prosthodontist’s training allows a comprehensive approach to the missing teeth.
It is important to replace missing teeth for proper chewing of food, jaw support, stability of the remaining teeth, and an attractive smile. Missing teeth disrupts proper function and the teeth next to and above the missing tooth/teeth will shift, move, and tip into the space in time. It is much easier to restore a missing tooth soon after it is lost than waiting a number of years after teeth have shifted significantly. A prosthodontist can determine the best method to replace your missing tooth or teeth.
Missing teeth are replaced through removable partial dentures, fixed dental prostheses (“bridges”), or dental implants. A discussion with your prosthodontist would help in determining which option is right for you.