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Have a Question? Ask our Specialists

What is hypodontia?

Sometimes teeth do not develop and are missing altogether. This is called hypodontia. It can affect baby and adult teeth and vary in severity from one missing tooth to many missing teeth in very rare cases.

Why does hypodontia occur?

Hypodontia often runs in families but people affected do not always pass it onto their children. Sometimes, hypodontia may occur for no known reason.


Is it common?


Hypodontia is quite common with up to 5% of the population being affected. Most commonly, one or two teeth are missing.

How would I know if I had hypodontia?


You may have noticed gaps between your teeth or your baby teeth may still be present. Some of the teeth that are present may be small in size or appear pointed. An examination and an x-ray investigation are needed to diagnose hypodontia.

How long will my baby teeth last?

This can vary but baby incisor teeth usually do not last beyond the teenage years. Baby canine and molar teeth can sometimes last into your 20’s - 30’s or even longer. It depends on the health of the teeth and the length of the roots.

What are my treatment choices?

There are different options that may be available to you:

1. Accept the space - this may be appropriate when back teeth are missing and the spaces are not visible.

2. Close the space - using fixed braces.

3. Create space - in the right place for a false tooth using fixed braces allowing one of the following to be fitted:

• Dental bridges (resin bonded bridges) - a false tooth glued onto another tooth.

• Dental implants - a false tooth on a titanium screw put into the jaw bone. They can only be placed once you have stopped growing and are not suitable for everyone.

• Dentures - these are removable plates with false teeth attached.


The restorative specialist and orthodontist will talk with you about options for any further treatment needed. You may therefore need a second joint consultation in such cases. 


What type of treatment is involved?

Treatment usually involves wearing fixed braces and you may need bridges or implants to replace the missing teeth.

However, the type of treatment needed depends on your age and the number of teeth that are missing. Definite decisions about your treatment often cannot be made until all the adult teeth have grown through the gums. This is normally when you are in your early teens (12-14 years).


Why might I need braces?

Fixed braces can be used to:

• Straighten your teeth.

• Close the gaps between your teeth.

• Create space in the right place for false teeth to be placed.

Your orthodontist will explain how they will be useful in your case.

I have noticed some of my teeth are small or pointed. Can anything be done?

Small adult, as well as baby teeth, can often be made to appear larger with a tooth-coloured filling material, called composite. Composite is the treatment of choice for small or pointed teeth. It may give a very nice appearance but the composite can change colour and chip over time and need replacement. In adults, fitting veneers or crowns may be advised depending on the shape and size of the teeth. Your general dentist or a restorative specialist can talk to you about these options.

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