3 Genetic Dental Issues

While most everybody is aware of the sort of dental problems that arise from poor hygiene--cavities, abscesses, and gingivitis, to name but three--there are just as many issues with a genetic cause. If you would like to learn more about these lesser known ailments, read on. This article will discuss three types of dental abnormalities with a hereditary basis.


Hypodontia refers to the condition of congenitally missing teeth. Although in most cases the baby teeth do develop, hypodontia is distinguished by the fact that the permanent teeth never form. Severe instances, in which none of the permanent teeth develop, are known as anodontia--a term that simply designates the total absence of teeth.

Interestingly, hypodontia is more common among males than among females. It has significant effects on the way the bones of both the upper and the lower jaw develop. This commonly results in spacing problems between the teeth that do form. Fortunately, the ill effects of this condition--both physical and psychological--can be mitigated through treatment options such as dentures, bridges, and implants.  

Supernumerary Teeth

On the opposite end of the spectrum from hypodontia is the phenomenon of supernumerary teeth. Here, in other words, the problem is not too few teeth, but too many. These extra teeth may be located anywhere in the mouth and are generally of an abnormal shape. The most frequently occurring type of supernumerary teeth are known as mesiodens

Mesiodens are smaller than normal teeth and usually bear a conical shaped crown. They are commonly located behind or between the central incisors. Although all of the contributing factors to the development of supernumerary teeth are not yet known, it is suspected that heredity plays a large role. This is born out by the fact that the children of those with supernumerary teeth are more likely to have them as well. In most cases, supernumerary teeth are treated through extraction.

Amelogenesis Imperfecta

Amelogenesis imperfecta is a rare and often painful genetic disorder characterized by the improper formation of dental enamel. In some cases, the dental enamel is produced normally, yet fails to harden the way it should. Such cases of amelogenesis imperfecta are classified as hypomaturation.

In other cases, this disorder involves insufficient enamel production. This is generally referred to as hypoplastic amelogenesis imperfecta. In both cases, the lack of enamel causes the underlying dentin to be exposed, thus increasing the prevalence of cavities and other forms of decay. Amelogenesis imperfecta is often treated through the application of dental sealants, which help to protect the vulnerable dentin from degradation and disease.

If you or your children suffer from any of these issues, talk with a dentist, such as Robert L. Edmonstone, DDS.