Most people develop a full set of teeth–we often have more teeth than we want and choose to remove the excess (wisdom teeth). However, some people fail to develop some of their teeth. This condition, known as hypodontia if only a few teeth don’t develop or oligodontia if many teeth don’t develop, can leave a person with a partial smile as well as insufficient teeth for biting and chewing.
But can dental implants replace the missing teeth? It’s possible, but it’s not always easy.
What Is Oligodontia?
Oligodontia is the name of a condition where multiple teeth fail to develop in a person’s mouth. The condition can affect primary (baby) teeth, adult teeth, or both. To be called oligodontia, at least seven teeth must fail to develop. Failing to develop six or fewer teeth is called hypodontia.
It is a relatively rare condition, affecting less than 0.25% of people. Women are more likely to experience it than men.
The condition can run in families and typically shows up as part of a systemic syndrome, such as ectodermal dysplasia, Van Der Woude syndrome, or Down syndrome. However, it sometimes occurs as an isolated condition, without any of these additional syndromic effects.
Are There Syndromic Effects?
One of the first things to consider is whether oligodontia is complicated by effects of a systemic syndrome. Cleft palate, for example, can make it harder to get good treatment results–in this case, more than dental implants are usually required to achieve good results.
We also want to consider whether a syndrome might impact your bone healing. If so, it can make it hard for dental implants to integrate with your jawbone. If you do have some natural teeth, we can look at how well bone developed around them to get an idea about how well your dental implants might fare.
How Much Bone Do You have?
Typically, the jawbone and the teeth develop together. The teeth stimulate the growth of the jawbone, which helps it to become strong enough to support the teeth. If you never had teeth, then you likely didn’t develop enough jawbone to support dental implants. If this is the case, then we might have to do one or more bone graft procedures before we can place your dental implants.
Is Your Jaw Mature?
One of the limitations of dental implants is that they require your jaw to be fully mature before we place them. This is usually not a problem for people who have lost teeth, but if your teeth didn’t develop, you might be eager to replace your teeth as soon as possible.
If you aren’t ready for dental implants, there are still options for attractive, effective tooth replacement, including removable dentures. We can use solutions that will help prepare your mouth for dental implants.
We Handle Complex Cases
If you have a complex condition like oligodontia, we may be able to help. We can perform an evaluation of your oral health, and if we aren’t right for you, we can refer you to someone who can provide you with the procedures you need.