When people talk about “extra teeth”, they often talk of wisdom teeth. Unless they’re specifically causing oral issues, wisdom teeth can be left alone. Yet people have them extracted on a regular basis. Why? Because they’re useless, otherwise — human jaws are now too small that there’s no longer any space for these teeth. Dentists all over have likely seen at least one wisdom tooth patient in their careers.
But what if you have some issue other than wisdom teeth? Enter the rare oral condition known as hyperdontia, or excess teeth. Humans are only supposed to have 32 permanent and 20 primary teeth. Any teeth other than those are referred to as supernumerary. These teeth can appear anywhere in the dental arch, though they’re often permanent incisors in the upper arch.
What Causes Hyperdontia?
There’s no specific reason as to why hyperdontia occurs. Experts, however, point to environmental and genetic factors. No identifiable environmental causes exist, though familial connections can allude to a tooth bud which splits early in development. This could also be an extra bud in the gum tissue, which then forms dental lamina over time. Experts claim that the genetic factor is due to an autosomal dominant trait (one inherited from an afflicted father).
Who Gets It And How Can It Be Treated?
Hyperdontia is a rare oral disorder. Only about 1 to 4 percent of the population has it, and men are more likely to develop it than women. While absurd numbers of extra teeth exist (one documented case involved over 30), they’re pretty rare.
Early detection and prevention are critical for dealing with hyperdontia. Dentists advise that children be screened before they turn seven since there’s a risk of the extra teeth adversely affecting permanent teeth eruption. But children with baby teeth can’t have their supernumerary ones extracted at once. They need to lose those teeth first before extraction or they might risk choking on them.
That said, appropriate extraction is the only treatment for hyperdontia. What else could it be? But the teeth can’t be taken out haphazardly. Specific medical considerations must be heeded beforehand.