If your child's dentist or physician has diagnosed your child with hypodontia, a congenital condition where some of the adult teeth are missing from the jaw, you probably have a lot on your mind. What does this diagnosis mean for your child's future? Will the treatment be painful for your child? Read on to discover the answers to these and other questions parents typically have following a hypodondia diagnosis.
What does this diagnosis mean for your child's future? Will he or she be able to eat and speak properly?
The short answer to this question is "yes." As long as your child undergoes the treatment protocol recommended by your dentist, he or she can look forward to a bright future with a normal smile and normal eating and speaking abilities. Keep in mind that if the diagnosis your dentist gives is hypodontia, this means that your child is only missing between one and six adult teeth. Your dentist can figure out which teeth are missing by taking x-rays of your child's jaw. How much your child will struggle with eating and speaking before treatment will depend on which teeth are missing.
How is hypodontia treated, and does the treatment hurt?
Again, this will depend on how many and which teeth your child is missing. Common treatment options include:
Repositioning the other teeth in the mouth to hide the gap created by the missing tooth or teeth. This option may be employed if your child is just missing one or two teeth. Braces are typically worn for a year or longer, and they readjust the position of the teeth in the mouth. Until your child is old enough for braces, your dentist may have him or her wear a special retainer that has "false teeth" on it to fill in the gaps. This should help with speaking and eating, while also preventing the teeth from shifting inappropriately. Orthodontic adjustments of this type may cause your child some mild discomfort, but they are not overly painful.
Inserting dental implants into the jaw. If your child is missing more than a tooth or two, dental implants will probably be placed in the jaw. Implants consist of screw-like pieces of metal that are inserted directly into the jaw bone. A porcelain or ceramic crown that looks like a real tooth is then attached to the surface of the implant. Having implants inserted is a surgical procedure, so some pain is involved. However, the pain can generally be controlled with pain relieving medications.
Generally, a dentist will wait until the child's jaw is finished growing to insert implants. This occurs around age 17 for boys and around age 15 for girls. In the meantime, your child will probably be asked to wear a retainer that has false teeth attached to make eating and speaking easier.
What caused your child to develop hypodontia?
Some cases of hypodontia are caused by trauma, infection, or taking medications such as thalidomide during pregnancy. However, the majority of cases are caused by genetic mutations. This means there is a chance your child could pass hypodontia on to his or her children.
How common is hypodontia?
It is not at all a rare disease. In fact, between 3 and 7% of the population has hypodontia. This is actually good news for your child, as it means that treatments and management practices for the condition are well established, and that there are many dentists who are experienced in working with kids with the condition.
If your dentist tells you that your child has hypodontia, it's important not to worry too much. This is a common, relatively minor condition. Yes, your child may have to go through some discomfort with braces or dental implants, but by the time he or she reaches adulthood and has undergone that treatment, his or her smile won't look any different from that of someone with a full set of teeth. For more information about working with a pediatric dentist to diagnose and treat hypodontia, visit websites like http://www.drheimann.com.
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