5 Causes of Hypodontia or Missing Teeth

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

Hypodontia, the scientific name for missing one or more teeth, is a puzzle up to 7% of the population deal with. (Al-Ani et al.)

But here’s the good news: orthodontic care has some pretty neat solutions up its sleeve!

From cool tech-like implants to gap-filling dental bridges, there’s a whole world of options to explore.

Let’s dive into the topic of missing permanent teeth and see how orthodontic magic turns those gaps into dazzling smiles!

What is Hypodontia?

Hypodontia describes the absence of one or more teeth for reasons other than accidents or a wild candy-eating spree.

Sometimes, you might not even notice someone has hypodontia unless they flash a big grin and you spot a gap where a tooth should be! Anywhere from 1.6 to 6.9% of the general population exhibits signs of this dental condition.

4 Types of Hypodontia

4 Types of Hypodontia

Hypodontia presents in various degrees, from the absence of a single tooth to the complete non-development of all teeth:

  • Congenitally Missing Teeth (CMT): The most prevalent form of hypodontia, it refers to primary teeth absent from birth.
  • Tooth Agenesis: This general descriptor denotes the non-appearance of one or more teeth. It’s a broad term encompassing any situation where teeth do not develop as they should.
  • Oligodontia: This condition is characterized by the absence of six or more teeth, excluding the third molars or wisdom teeth. It represents a more severe form of tooth absence.
  • Anodontia: The patient does not develop any teeth at all.

5 Causes of Hypodontia

5 Causes of Hypodontia

Hypodontia can arise from a variety of causes, ranging from our genetic makeup to external environmental factors:

  • Genetic Factors: Often, the most common cause of hypodontia is our genetic makeup. If your parents or grandparents had missing teeth, the chances increase that you might, too.
  • Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions or syndromes, like ectodermal dysplasia, may result in missing teeth.
  • Environmental Factors: While growing in the womb, disturbances like infections or drug exposure may interfere with tooth development.
  • Trauma: Sometimes, injuries, especially at a young age, disrupt dental development or cause them not to form in the first place.
  • Dental Issues: Conditions like tumors, cysts, or prolonged use of baby teeth prevent permanent teeth from developing properly.

Does Hypodontia Have a Strong Genetic Influence?

4 types of hypodontia-causing genes

Yes, genetic conditions play a significant role in missing teeth.

If someone in your family tree had it, there’s a chance it might show up in future branches, too!

Our parents can pass down hypodontia genes to us through multiple avenues:

  • Autosomal recessive: Both parents, although asymptomatic, need to carry the gene for their children to develop hypodontia.
  • Autosomal dominant: Only one parent needs to have the gene to pass hypodontia to their children.
  • X-linked dominant and X-linked recessive: X chromosome genes may influence traits such as hypodontia.

When we dig deeper into the genetics of hypodontia, some specific genes pop up frequently:

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

These genes are the usual suspects of nonsyndromic hypodontia (when hypodontia occurs without other symptoms or syndromes). Any changes or mutations in these genes can lead to missing teeth.

Is Hypodontia Preventable?

A significant chunk of hypodontia cases is assigned to genetic disorders.

If it’s written in your DNA that some teeth might not show up, there’s not much you can do about it. That’s like trying to change your natural eye color without contacts—it’s just built-in!

You can take steps to reduce the hypodontia risk from other factors, such as medical conditions, environmental influences, and trauma.

But in the grand scheme of things, if hypodontia’s in your cards, it’s more about managing and treating it than preventing it altogether.

5 Symptoms of Hypodontia

5 Symptoms of Hypodontia

Hypodontia isn’t just about the missing teeth—it’s about the whole domino effect those absent teeth can have on the mouth:

  • Visible gaps: Sometimes, these tooth gaps are noticeable (in the front of the mouth) or hide towards the back.
  • Late tooth eruption: If your adult teeth are taking their sweet time and are way behind schedule, it could hint at hypodontia.
  • Misaligned teeth: Missing teeth can make the neighbors a bit restless. This means the teeth next to the empty space might tilt, rotate, or shift because there’s room to move.
  • Changes in tooth size or shape: Sometimes, the teeth that do show up might look a little different—either tinier than usual or with an unusual shape.
  • Speech and eating difficulties: Teeth play a big part in talking and munching. If some are missing, it might make certain words tricky to pronounce and foods harder to chew.

How Dental Health Experts Come to a Hypodontia Diagnosis

How Dental Health Experts Come to a Hypodontia Diagnosis

If you or someone you know thinks they might have hypodontia, a trip to the dentist is the first step. They’ve got the tools, the tech, and the expertise to crack the case and figure out what’s going on:

  • Dental Examination: Your dentist will check for any gaps or places with missing teeth. They’ll also ask about any family history of hypodontia.
  • X-Rays: By taking images of your jaws and teeth, dentists can see what’s happening below the gum line. If teeth are missing or just haven’t erupted yet, X-rays will show it.
  • Study Models: Sometimes, dentists will make a model of your mouth using a soft material that hardens into a mold. This approach helps them see the layout of your teeth and spot any gaps.
  • Referral to a Specialist: If your dentist suspects hypodontia, they might send you to an orthodontist. They have extra training to diagnose and treat conditions like hypodontia.

Addressing Hypodontia Through Orthodontic Treatment

Addressing Hypodontia Through Orthodontic Treatment

So, there you have it! If hypodontia’s thrown you a curveball and left gaps in your grin, orthodontic care has got your back:

  • Braces: They will help shift and align teeth to either close gaps or prepare the space for future treatments like bridges or implants.
  • Dental Bridges: They connect the gap where the missing tooth is by using the teeth next to it as anchors. The middle part of the bridge has a fake tooth that sits right in the empty space.
  • Dental Implants: An implant is like a brand-new tooth anchored right into your jawbone. It’s a more permanent fix compared to other solutions.
  • Partial Dentures or “Flippers“: These removable devices with one or more fake teeth attached can be a temporary or sometimes permanent solution for missing teeth.

FAQ About Hypodontia

What are the Most Commonly Missing Teeth With Hypodontia?

Hypodontia, a condition where certain teeth are congenitally absent, is not an indiscriminate occurrence. In fact, specific teeth are more frequently missing than others.

Among the most common absentees are the wisdom teeth. These are the last set of molars situated at the farthest end of your gums. Many patients are missing one or more of these teeth without realizing it, as they often do not serve a direct functional purpose.

The upper lateral incisors (adjacent to the two front teeth) are also among those commonly missing.

The second premolars, situated between the sharp canines and the first set of molars, further find themselves on this list.

Is Hypodontia Life-Threatening?

The straightforward answer is no—hypodontia, in and of itself, is not life-threatening.

How Much Does Hypodontia Treatment Cost?

Hypodontia treatment costs vary based on where you live—dental experts in larger cities will most likely charge higher fees due to their location.

The preferred treatment type is also a significant factor. Are you going for implants, a bridge, or braces to shift things around? Each option has its own price tag. For instance, dental implants are pricier because they’re akin to getting a brand-new tooth.

Some insurance plans might help cover the hypodontia cost, although others might not, especially if you’re dealing with congenitally missing teeth.

Your orthodontist will give you the rundown on your condition’s proper treatment and price tag. Many offices offer payment plans, so you can spread the costs over time.

Young woman with perfect smile

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

Contact Patuxent 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 (240) 802-7217 or message us through our Contact Us page to connect with our friendly staff today and book a complimentary consultation!

Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area and Greater Washington DC. So, if you’re residing in Hollywood, Wildewood, or Leonardtown and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Maryland, 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!


  1. Al-Ani, Azza H., et al. “Hypodontia: An Update on Its Etiology, Classification, and Clinical Management.”BioMed Research International, vol. 2017, 2017, https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/9378325. Accessed 23 Sept. 2023.
  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.

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