Have you ever noticed that your smile is different? Are your canines (eye teeth) closer than usual to your two front teeth? Is your smile similar to the picture displayed to the right? Then you may have a common genetic dental problem known as congenitally missing lateral incisors.
Missing lateral incisors is when the teeth adjacent to the upper front two teeth are missing. This trait is genetic, so if your lateral incisors are missing then you inherited this feature.
This congenital dental malformation is common, so you are not alone! Over 20% of people are missing one or more wisdom teeth (third molars) and over 5% are missing one or more second premolars or upper lateral incisors.
Although congenitally missing lateral incisors are not uncommon it is important to speak with your dentist about taking care of your missing teeth. Since every tooth has an essential and specific function, missing teeth may disturb the natural function of your teeth. For example, when the upper lateral incisors are missing the canine teeth often move toward the two front teeth (central incisors) to close the gaps created by the missing teeth. Once this occurs the upper and lower teeth will not close together properly, thus inhibiting the teeth from functioning and your ability to chew food correctly and comfortably.
To prevent further long-term complications of your teeth, it is important to understand the best options for replacing the congenitally missing lateral incisors. Considering dental implants to fill the place of your lateral incisors is a great option, because dental implants do not damage or attach to adjacent teeth.
However, like any procedure, there are factors to consider before choosing dental implants to fill the place of your lateral incisors. The most important factors to consider are:
- Jaw maturity: Jaw growth should be complete before implants are placed; the jawbone generally matures by age 18, but this differs based on the individual
- Sufficient bone volume: When lateral incisors do not develop the bone that forms with them does not develop either. Therefore, bone may have to be generated surgically in order to complete the procedure.
Every person has unique teeth, just like every individual has unique fingerprints, so the factors to consider may differ with every individual. It is best to speak with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to help determine which option is best for you. Call our office at 703.388.2805 to schedule a consultation appointment, so we may help you choose the best option for your smile.