Hyperdontia is a rare dental condition, but for the less than 3 percent of the population that develops it, it can be life-changing if not treated as soon as possible.
Hyperdontia is the growth of “extra,” or supernumerary, teeth. Children normally have 20, adults 32. But very occasionally, an extra tooth or teeth can develop from the dental lamina in which teeth are formed, and can occur in either primary (children’s) or permanent (adult) stages.
Researchers are not sure why this happens; factors may include genetics and malformations in the mouth, but hyperdontia may also be related to some diseases.
Your best defense is your dentist, and your dentist’s best tool for early detection is the x-ray, which can “see” into the gums. Early detection is critical. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, in one third of the cases an extra tooth in the primary stage develops into a “complementary” extra tooth in the permanent stage.
The most common extra teeth grow in with the incisors, the sharp, chisel-shaped front teeth visible. Another common location is among the molars, the grinding-and-chewing teeth at the back end of the mouth into the jawline.
An extra tooth can cause long-lasting problems. It can prevent permanent teeth from developing normally, or cause them to grow crooked. It can be cosmetically unattractive. It can also cause dental “crowding,” and affect chewing habits. In some cases, it can form a cyst.
Extraction is one method of treatment, but your dentist may want to follow the development through a course of checkups. If the extra tooth is not causing problems, the risks of extraction may outweigh the benefits. If it is a primary, for example, it may fall out with the development of permanent teeth.