Dealing With Hyperdontia: Supernumerary Teeth
Supernumerary teeth or hyperdontia is a dental condition whereby the number of teeth that grow in the mouth exceeds the regular 20 primary teeth or the 32 permanent teeth. The condition is called hyperdontia and the extra teeth are called supernumerary teeth.
These extra teeth can grow anywhere on the gum in the mouth, mostly on the dental arches. Children experience hyperdontia when they still have primary teeth and adults can experience this condition too.
The prevalence of supernumerary teeth has been reported 0.2–3% in the primary and permanent dentition. Supernumerary primary teeth are apparently less common than supernumerary permanent teeth and patients with supernumerary primary teeth have a 30–50% chance of these being followed by supernumerary permanent teeth.
Supernumerary teeth are common in children and may not cause any disruption to the normal teething process. However in other cases, there is the risk of the extra teeth impacting the regular teeth, sometimes encroaching on the spaces reserved for the growth of the regular teeth. The concern remains whether to remove supernumerary teeth or to manage the problem, especially when it is causing no disruption or harm.
If you have supernumerary teeth or you are looking for a solution to your child’s hyperdontia situation, this article will discuss supernumerary teeth and how you can handle this condition for yourself, your child, or that individual you may be trying to help.
What causes the growth of supernumerary teeth (hyperdontia)?
It has been difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of hyperdontia. Scientists point to genetics saying that it may be hereditary. Also, there is the possibility that it is influenced by environmental factors, and overworking of the dental lamina causing it to get proactive during teething and producing more teeth than it should.
The dental lamina refers to the cells responsible for the formation of the teeth. So when it is on overdrive, like a faulty engine, it can produce more teeth or fewer teeth than it should. When it produces more teeth, the condition is known as hyperdontia but when it produces less than the regular 20 primary or 32 permanent teeth, it is known as hypodontia.
Although the exact cause is unknown, it has been tied to a few hereditary conditions. So if a family member has it or has had it, it may likely occur in the offsprings to come. Let us highlight a few of these conditions.
The risk factor for those with Gardner’s syndrome is that a parent can pass it on to the offspring. This genetic disorder is one of the factors responsible for skin cysts, skull and colon growths, and suspected to be responsible for the passage of hyperdontia from parent to offspring.
The Anderson-Fabry disease is a syndrome that comes as a result of the build-up of globotriaosylceramide, which is a type of fat in the body. It is an inherited disorder and a rare condition that can affect some delicate organs of the body like the heart, kidneys, and skin.
The effect of the Fabry disease is being unable to sweat, feeling pain in the hands and feet, breakouts or rashes that are usually red or blue in color, and pain in the abdomen.
This is another hereditary condition associated with hyperdontia. People with this rare genetic condition suffer pain in the joints as the joints suffer dislocation easily. Skin bruises easily and pain is experienced constantly in muscles and joints.
Cleidocranial dysplasia is a birth defect that usually affects the bones and teeth. People with this condition are sometimes born with deformed shoulders or the absence of shoulder blades. It affects the formation of the skull and collarbone.
Cleft palate and lip
This is a condition that affects the face, there is usually a cleft lip or cleft palate and sometimes both a cleft lip and cleft palate. If you have ever seen a child born with an opening from the roof of the mouth into the nose, then that’s a cleft palate. It usually occurs on one side or both sides of the mouth and sometimes in the middle.
Cleft palate and lip are closely linked to other disorders.
Symptoms and diagnosis of supernumerary teeth
The growth of the extra teeth usually found in various positions either behind or in front of the regular teeth is one of the ways to spot supernumerary teeth. Diagnosis is also easy if you carry out routine dental checks. Routine xrays such as a panorex should be able to show extra teeth.
Your dentist will be able to find the extra teeth or extra tooth growing early enough using a CT scan while examining your jaw, teeth, and the whole mouth.
How to spot a supernumerary tooth
The shape and sizes of supernumerary teeth are usually different from the regular teeth and sometimes look like the regular teeth because it can take the shape of the tooth it is growing close to.
- The supplemental supernumerary tooth is the type that looks like the tooth it is growing close to.
- The tuberculate tooth takes the shape of a tube.
- For the compound odontoma condition, supernumerary teeth occur in form of multiple teeth in clusters.
- The complex odontoma condition is similar to the compound odontoma condition but the extra teeth grow in a disorderly or scattered pattern.
- The conical or peg-shaped extra tooth, shaped like a cone, has a wide base and narrow top giving it a sharp tip.
Positions of supernumerary teeth
Supernumerary teeth occur in various positions in the mouth. This affects if the extra teeth can be lived with or if it has to be extracted because of the pressure against the other teeth and the pain that comes with it.
- The paramolar position.
The extra teeth are found at the back of the mouth close to the molars.
- The distomolar position
This extra tooth aligns itself with the other molars. Usually an extra wisdom tooth.
- The Mesiodens.
The extra tooth grows behind the incisors and is the most common type of hyperdontia people suffer.
- Fourth molars
The fourth molars are almost regular and usually grow later. They are popularly known as the wisdom teeth and fall under the distomolar position. The fourth molars sometimes cause great discomfort and usually have to be extracted.
Treatment of supernumerary teeth
The hyperdontia condition does not really cause pain but it can get uncomfortable. Pain is not written off completely as extra teeth growing in tight corners can put pressure on the other teeth, and cause severe pain. This is where treatment of supernumerary teeth comes in.
The cluster of extra teeth can make the alignment of teeth wrong and make your teeth look crooked. After examination by your dentist, extraction of the tooth may be recommended for the following reasons:
- The growth is due to an underlying health condition that may be genetic.
- The extra tooth is causing swelling and severe pains especially when chewing.
- Chewing and talking are becoming difficult or impaired.
- Brushing your teeth is now a chore or the extra tooth stops you from cleaning your teeth properly.
- The growth is affecting your self-confidence and making you extra conscious of how you look when you talk or smile.
Generally, the treatment for hyperdontia is the extraction of the tooth or teeth as soon as possible. If you are experiencing any of the problems in the bulleted points, then you may need to go in for the extraction.
Leaving the tooth or teeth for too long can give rise to other dental conditions. The accumulation of bacteria around the area where the extra tooth is growing can cause tooth decay or holes in the teeth. These situations can be avoided by simply extracting the extra teeth.
After the extraction, your dentist will give you painkillers and anti-inflammatories to treat any swelling and pain that may result.
Managing supernumerary teeth (hyperdontia)
In many cases, people with supernumerary teeth may never need to undergo an extraction. But before you decide to ignore the symptoms, ensure that the extra tooth is not hindering the proper growth of the other teeth.
A crooked dentition will affect your day to day life. It can bring both physical and psychological pain. See your dentist at once if dealing with the pain is impossible.
Other effects of hyperdontia include swelling that comes from the pressure of the extra tooth, a weak mouth making chewing difficult, and brushing almost impossible. Hyperdontia mostly occurs with a single tooth and some people live with this without any medical issues. Once you notice more than one growth, an extraction might be needed, unless of course, it is your wisdom teeth.
Remember that there is nothing wrong with tooth extraction as long as it is done to save you from future dental ailments. Your gum pockets will heal up with the help of medication given by your dentist.
The choice to live with supernumerary teeth remains with you. If you have been living with it for years, chances are that you are searching for information on ways to manage it or the pain is becoming worse. There is a solution to your dental problem so be sure to visit your dentist regularly.
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.