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Addressing Congenitally Missing Teeth

  • February 7, 2011

COLLEGEVILLE, WILLIAMSPORT AND PHILADELPHIA, PA – Losing your teeth as a child is a rite of passage and an opportunity to earn a visit from the Tooth Fairy.

But there are some teeth that never get lost, because children never had them to begin with.

About 2.5 percent of children in the U.S. have congenitally missing upper lateral incisors, according to information posted on DentalResource.org. It is more common for the child to be born with their primary lateral incisors, but lack their adult counterparts, says Williamsport, PA dental implants expert Dr. David DiGiallorenzo. In instances where the primary lateral incisors are missing, this usually indicates that the adult replacements are missing, too.

If you have congenitally missing teeth, you don’t have to live your life feeling self-conscious about your smile, says Dr. DiGiallorenzo, a Williamsport, PA periodontist. Dental implants and crowns can restore your smile and preserve your jawbone without damaging adjacent teeth as a bridge would.When treati ng patients with congenitally missing teeth, Dr. DiGiallorenzo often works in conjunction with orthodontists, who help maintain the space needed for dental implants.

“We usually want to see the patients as soon as their orthodontic treatment is complete,” he says. “Often, recapturing lost bone is needed, as there was never a tooth that formed and this will cause bone atrophy.”

Determining the amount of bone loss is done using 3D Cone Beam Imaging- X-ray technology that shows more detail than traditional X-rays by providing more complete visual information from every angle. This allows for better assessment of the jaws for placement of dental implants.

Dr. DiGiallorenzo works with your orthodontist to make sure the teeth surrounding the implant area are properly aligned and enough space is available in which to place the implant.

We can place implants in girls at around age 16, while boys usually need to wait until growth is complete, which can be around age 17 or 18.

In the time between completion of orthodontic treatment and getting dental implants to replace the missing teeth, space maintenance is key if you still are growing, says Dr. DiGiallorenzo, whose Williamsport, PA periodontics practice places conventional and immediate load dental implants. Patients may be fitted with a fixed retainer or a Maryland Bridge for space maintenance.

Once the patient stops growing, Dr. DiGiallorenzo can place dental implants into the jawbone to act as anchors for porcelain crowns, which will permanently replace the missing teeth. When immediate load implants are used, Dr. DiGiallorenzo can immediately secure the porcelain crown to it.

If traditional dental implants are used, they require a healing process of several months to allow the implant to integrate itself into the jawbone through a process known as osseointegration.

“Once we place the implants and affix the porcelain crowns to them, no one will notice the difference between them and your natural teeth,” Dr. DiGiallorenzo says. “The replacements will have the look, function and feel of your natural teeth.”

© 2011 Sinai Marketing and Dr. David Digiallorenzo.