5 Causes of Hypodontia or Missing Teeth

by | Nov 23, 2023 | General Orthodontics, Oral Health, Orthodontic Treatments | 0 comments

8 min reading time

Hypodontia, a condition characterized by the absence of one or several teeth, affects up to 7% of the general population. (Al-Ani et al.)

The silver lining, though, is that orthodontic treatments offer some impressive fixes!

From innovative implants to gap-filling dental bridges, there’s an array of hypodontia treatments for you to consider.

Now, let’s delve into missing permanent teeth and discover how orthodontic wizardry can transform those voids into beaming grins!

What is Hypodontia?

Hypodontia is the term used when someone is missing one or more teeth for reasons other than trauma or an overindulgence in sweets.

Often, it’s not immediately apparent that someone has hypodontia until they flash a big grin and reveal a space where a tooth is missing! 

About 1.6 to 6.9% of people worldwide deal with hypodontia.

4 Types of Hypodontia

4 Types of Hypodontia

Hypodontia manifests in a spectrum of severities, ranging from the missing of a solitary tooth to a total absence of all teeth:

  • Congenitally Missing Teeth (CMT): This is the most common variation of hypodontia, indicating teeth are missing from birth.
  • Tooth Agenesis: This term is a catch-all for the failure of one or more teeth to emerge. It encompasses all instances where tooth development is incomplete.
  • Oligodontia: Defined by the lack of 6 or more teeth—wisdom teeth excluded—oligodontia indicates a more pronounced degree of tooth absence.
  • Anodontia: In this extreme scenario, a patient’s teeth are entirely undeveloped.

5 Causes of Hypodontia

5 Causes of Hypodontia

The emergence of hypodontia is attributable to an assortment of factors, from inherited traits to external environmental influences:

  • Genetic Predisposition: A family history of missing teeth increases the likelihood of similar dental gaps.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain health disorders or syndromes, such as ectodermal dysplasia, contribute to hypodontia.
  • Environmental Factors: Prenatal infections or exposure to certain medications may disrupt tooth formation.
  • Trauma: Dental development may be halted or impaired by trauma, particularly during the formative years.
  • Dental Issues: The presence of tumors, cysts, or the extended retention of milk teeth impedes the emergence of their permanent successors.

Does Hypodontia Have a Strong Genetic Influence?

4 types of hypodontia-causing genes

Inherited conditions are a significant factor in the occurrence of missing teeth!

Any history of this condition within your lineage may reappear in subsequent generations.

The genes responsible for hypodontia can be handed down in several ways:

  • Autosomal recessive: Both parents carry the gene without showing symptoms, yet they can pass on hypodontia to their offspring.
  • Autosomal dominant: The presence of the gene in just one parent is sufficient for transferring hypodontia to the next generation.
  • X-linked dominant and X-linked recessive: Genes located on the X chromosome are instrumental in determining traits like hypodontia.

Investigating the genetics behind hypodontia often brings specific genes to the forefront:

  • PAX9 (paired box gene 9)
  • MSX1 (muscle segment homeobox 1)
  • AXIN2 (axis inhibition protein 2)
  • EDA (ectodysplasin A)

These are typically the genetic culprits associated with nonsyndromic hypodontia—the isolated occurrence of missing teeth without other associated conditions or syndromes. Mutations or alterations in these genes may result in the absence of teeth.

Is Hypodontia Preventable?

A large portion of hypodontia cases are attributed to genetic anomalies.

When your genetic code dictates that certain teeth won’t appear, it’s largely beyond your control, akin to altering your inherent eye color without colored lenses—it’s ingrained!

While you may mitigate the risks of hypodontia stemming from other sources, like health conditions, environmental elements, and injuries, ultimately, if hypodontia is part of your genetic blueprint, the focus shifts to coping with and addressing it rather than circumventing it entirely.

5 Symptoms of Hypodontia

5 Symptoms of Hypodontia

Hypodontia extends beyond the simple absence of teeth—it sets off a cascade of effects throughout the oral cavity:

  • Visible gaps: They are more conspicuously present at the front of the mouth or more concealed at the back.
  • Late tooth eruption: When your adult teeth are tardy, this could signal hypodontia.
  • Misaligned teeth: The absence of teeth may cause the adjacent ones to become restless, potentially leading to tilting, rotation, or migration due to the extra space available.
  • Changes in tooth size or shape: Occasionally, the teeth that do erupt may appear atypically small or oddly shaped.
  • Speech and eating difficulties: Tooth gaps might complicate the pronunciation of certain words and the chewing of certain foods.

How Dental Health Experts Come to a Hypodontia Diagnosis

How Dental Health Experts Come to a Hypodontia Diagnosis

Should you suspect hypodontia, visiting a dental professional is an essential first move. They are equipped with advanced diagnostic tools, technology, and a wealth of knowledge to uncover the root of the issue and map out the dental landscape:

  • Dental Examination: Your dentist will thoroughly search for empty signs of absent teeth and delve into any familial patterns of hypodontia.
  • X-Rays: Through comprehensive imaging of your teeth and jawbone, your dentist can investigate what lies beneath the surface of your gums. X-rays are a window to view any teeth that are either missing or have yet to break through.
  • Study Models: Your dentist may employ a pliable substance to take an impression of your mouth. Once set, this impression will offer a three-dimensional representation of your oral topography, making it easier to identify any omissions.
  • Orthodontic Consultation: In cases where hypodontia is a probable diagnosis, your dentist will recommend visiting an orthodontist—a specialist trained in identifying and managing such dental anomalies.

Addressing Hypodontia Through Orthodontic Treatment

Addressing Hypodontia Through Orthodontic Treatment

If you find yourself navigating the challenges of hypodontia and confronting the voids in your smile, fear not—orthodontic intervention is here to restore harmony:

  • Braces: Braces realign your remaining teeth, either to close the spaces or to orchestrate the perfect alignment for prosthetic replacements such as bridges or implants.
  • Dental Bridges: These devices serve as a bridge over the gaps, anchoring onto neighboring teeth to hold a fake tooth firmly in the vacancy.
  • Dental Implants: Functioning as artificial tooth roots, dental implants are surgically embedded into the jawbone, offering a sturdy, long-term solution by supporting a prosthetic tooth.
  • Partial Dentures or “Flippers”: Often called “flippers,” these detachable appliances can temporarily or sometimes permanently carry one or several prosthetic teeth, filling in the gaps effortlessly.

FAQ About Hypodontia

What are the Most Commonly Missing Teeth With Hypodontia?

Hypodontia is selective in its presentation, with particular teeth being more prone to absence.

Predominantly, the third molars, known as wisdom teeth, are the usual suspects of nonappearance. Nestled at the back of the mouth, these molars often go unnoticed when missing, as their absence rarely impacts daily oral functions.

The teeth next in line for this peculiar pattern of absence are the upper lateral incisors, which reside just beside the central front teeth.

Additionally, the second premolars, which occupy the space between the canine teeth and the leading molars, are frequently on this missing roster.

Is Hypodontia Life-Threatening?

Hypodontia does not pose a direct threat to any patient’s life.

How Much Does Hypodontia Treatment Cost?

The expense of treating hypodontia fluctuates depending on your location—dental professionals in larger cities often demand higher fees reflective of their city-based practices.

Your preferred treatment plays a crucial role in determining costs. Options range from implants—which come with a heftier price tag—to bridges or braces.

Insurance coverage for hypodontia treatments can be a mixed bag, with some policies providing assistance and others excluding it, particularly for congenitally missing teeth.

Your orthodontist will outline the treatment suitable for your condition and its associated costs. Many dental offices also provide installment plans, allowing you to distribute the financial load over multiple months.

Young woman with perfect smile

Don’t Let Hypodontia Stand in the Way of Your Perfect Smile!

Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if orthodontic care is the solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic care or have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (703) 858-0303 or send us a message through our Contact Us page to connect with our friendly staff today and book a complimentary orthodontic consultation! 

Our office—located at 19465 Deerfield Ave. Suite 304 Lansdowne, VA 20176—proudly serves the Lansdowne, VA area. So, if you’re residing in Ashburn, Sterling, or Leesburg and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Virginia, don’t hesitate to visit our office! 

We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining your perfect smile, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!



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  2. “Hypodontia…Your Child’s Missing Teeth Should Not Be a Problem: Elgin Il Pediatric Dentist.” Kids First Pediatric Dentistry, 22 Feb. 2023, kidsfirstpd.com/hypodontiayour-childs-missing-teeth-should-not-be-a-problem-elgin-il-pediatric-dentist/. Accessed 23 Sept. 2023.
  3. “Hypodontia (Missing Teeth): Causes & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/24192-hypodontia-missing-teeth. Accessed 23 Sept. 2023.
  4. “Hypodontia (Missing Teeth) – Kids Dental Plano and Carrollton – Dr. Jeff Holt.” Kids Dental Online – Plano & Carrollton, 13 Feb. 2019, www.kidsdentalonline.com/hypodontia-missing-teeth/. Accessed 23 Sept. 2023.
  5. What Is Hypodontia? Causes and Treatments for Missing Teeth, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/mouth-and-teeth-anatomy/what-is-hypodontia-causes-and-treatments-for-missing-teeth. Accessed 23 Sept. 2023.
  6. “When You’re Missing Permanent Teeth.” When You Are Missing Permanent Teeth | Delta Dental, www.deltadental.com/us/en/protect-my-smile/oral-health-conditions/hypodontia-missing-permanent-teeth.html. Accessed 23 Sept. 2023.