It’s an established fact that genetics have an impact on a person’s overall health. But did you know they can also determine how teeth develop? Characterized by very small teeth, microdontia is a common oral health problem that often runs in families. Adults affected by microdontia may have small teeth with gaps between them, making them look like baby teeth. Teeth that are too small may not fit together or chew properly, which can cause excessive wear and tear. But there’s good news for people with microdontia: modern dentistry offers many techniques that can help restore teeth and improve smiles. We take a look at what microdontia is and how it can be treated.
What is microdontia?
‘Micro’ means small and ‘dontia’ means a state relating to teeth. So, the word ‘microdontia’ means having small teeth. A person who has one or more teeth smaller than normal is said to have a case of microdontia. Such small teeth are called, by specialists, microdontic teeth or simply microdonts. Microdonts can have normal or abnormal morphology. They can have a regular shape but a small size, or may be regular in size and have a triangular shape. In many cases, these small teeth have small roots, while the crown may be near normal.
What are the classifications of microdontia?
There are three types of microdontia:
- Localized microdontia: Localized microdontia as the name suggests, means only one tooth is affected. Normally, it would be an upper lateral incisor or a third molar. The cause could be facial hemiatrophy (when one side of the face is smaller than the other in some manner) or an incidence of an extra tooth.
- Truly generalized microdontia: Truly generalized microdontia, involves all the teeth of the patient. A normal sized tooth would be an exception. Truly generalized microdontia is rare. The condition may be caused by pituitary dwarfism or Down’s syndrome. It may also be caused by the effects of chemotherapeutic and radiation treatment during the tooth development age.
- Relatively generalized microdontia: Relatively generalized condition is not real microdontia, rather, it is an illusion. If slightly smaller than normal teeth exist on an abnormally large jaw they would appear small. Such a state can occur when the subject has inherited a larger than normal jaw from one of the parents, and the tooth size from the other parent.
What are the treatment options?
If you’ve decided that you’d like to improve your smile, the American Dental Association recommends you first visit a dentist. Some of the more popular treatment options include:
- Composites: Composite bonding is a method in which your dentist applies a malleable, tooth colored composite to the affected tooth and shapes it to resemble a full sized, normal tooth. It is then hardened and polished. It requires very little preparation, only the roughening of the surface of the tooth so the bonding material can adhere. This is a lower cost option for restoring teeth but don’t let the lower cost fool you. This is often the best choice for creating that great smile you always hoped for. The composites used today are strong, resist staining and are color stable.
- Veneers: Veneers are a thin, tooth colored “shells” that cover the front of the tooth. These are made of porcelain or a high-tech ceramic. Some of the tooth may need to be removed to properly place the veneer but this is usually not needed when dealing with undersized teeth. These restorations are ultra-esthetic and have a terrific life span.
- Crowns: A crown is a “cap” that covers the whole tooth. It restores the whole tooth and also provides a degree of strength. It is usually made of a tooth colored ceramic. These restorations are not often done for undersized teeth as they require the unnecessary removal of healthy tooth structure.
Do you have any questions about microdontia? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.