Hyperdontia (Extra Teeth): Everything About Supernumerary Teeth

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Missing teeth is a problem that most people experience. Losing your teeth prematurely can put a damper on your health, appearance, and quality of life. However, did you know there is such a thing as too many teeth and that it can be equally as bad? 

Hyperdontia (Extra Teeth)

If you have been born with extra sets of regular teeth or smaller-than-normal teeth, you may have a condition called hyperdontia.

In this article we will learn more about this peculiar dental condition and if there is anything you can do to avoid it. 

What is hyperdontia (extra teeth)?

Hyperdontia is the medical term used to describe a dental condition characterized by the eruption of too many teeth in your mouth.

These extra sets of teeth are known as supernumerary teeth and can grow anywhere in the mouth including the dental arches.

Ideally, a child grows 20 baby teeth or primary teeth in their mouths which are then followed by a set of 32 permanent teeth. Hyperdontia can affect primary or permanent teeth, meaning anyone is prone to developing it.

This is the opposite of hypodontia, where teeth are missing.

As a rule of thumb, any children with more than 20 teeth and adults with more than 32 teeth are considered to have hyperdontia.

The number of teeth that can develop as “extras” can determine the severity of the condition. People with hyperdontia may have:

  • One extra tooth
  • Several extra teeth
  • Additional teeth on one or both sides of the jaws
  • Additional teeth on the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both.
  • Extra teeth can appear as single entities or in clusters
  • Extra sets of teeth can be visible (erupted supernumerary) or hidden (impacted supernumerary teeth) in presentation.

Which are the most common extra teeth?

While it is true that extra teeth can erupt anywhere in the dental arch, it has been reported that hyperdontia mostly affects permanent dentition. 

extra teeth

Furthermore, supernumerary teeth are the most common in maxillary (upper) and anterior (front) regions, meaning that the upper front teeth (incisors) are the most common type of extra teeth. 

These extras are known as mesiodentes and typically erupt in the palate between the upper two front teeth.

Is it rare?

Studies report that hyperdontia is rare, representing only about 1 to 3% of all dental abnormalities. Generally, hyperdontia presents in 3.8% of permanent teeth and up to 0.6% of deciduous teeth.

Other studies have also found that hyperdontia is twice as common in men and people who are assigned male at birth (AMAB).

What causes hyperdontia?

The exact cause of hyperdontia isn’t known, say experts. However, several factors have been outlined that could contribute to this condition.

  • Genetics: Studies claim that hyperdontia may be a genetic disorder. Mutations passed on to offspring through several different genes may be responsible for your extra set of teeth.
  • Hyperactive dental lamina: The dental lamina is a band of tissue responsible for the formation of teeth during the embryonic phase. When this lamina is overactive, it can cause numerous teeth or teeth-like structures to form in the mouth.
  • Atavism: Extra teeth may appear as a result of the reappearance of an ancestral genetic trait. For instance, because the primitive diet of plants and raw foods was tougher to chew, it could be possible that our ancestors developed extra sets of teeth to help extensive chewing.
  • Certain health conditions

Conditions associated with extra teeth

While it is unclear why some individuals have supernumerary teeth and others don’t, it has been observed that a majority of hyperdontia cases are interlinked with certain health conditions. 

Extra Teeth Why

The conditions that are commonly associated with hyperdontia are:

  • Gardner syndrome: It is a rare genetic condition that causes the formation of benign (non-cancerous) growths in the colon along with tumors outside the color. 
  • Cleidocranial dysplasia: It is a rare condition that affects the normal development of the teeth and bones, including the skull, face, and collarbones.
  • Cleft palate and cleft lip: These birth defects are openings in the upper lip or roof of a baby’s mouth. They are one of the most common congenital disorders in the U.S. with about 1 in every 1,600 babies born with both cleft lip and palate, according to the CDC.
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: It is a congenital connective tissue disorder, the symptoms of which can be loose joints, joint pain, overly stretchy and easily bruised skin, and abnormal scar formation.
  • Fabry disease: In this genetic condition, the patient may experience numbness in the hands or feet, extreme pain during physical activity, inability to sweat, and abdominal pain.

Types of supernumerary teeth

Extra or supernumerary teeth have been classified into different types depending on their shape and location in the mouth.

According to the shape of these extra sets of teeth, they can be any of these four types:

  1. Conical or peg-shaped (wider at the base and narrow towards the top)
  2. Supplemental (shaped like a typical tooth)
  3. Odontoma (tooth made up of several small, tooth-like growths together)
  4. Tuberculate (tube or barrel-shaped)

According to the location of these tooth-like growths in the mouth, they can be classified into three types:

  1. Mesiodens: The most common type of extra tooth that grows directly behind the upper front teeth.
  2. Paramolars: Extra tooth that erupts next to one of the molars, either towards the tongue or cheek.
  3. Distomolars: Extra teeth that erupt behind the rest of the molar teeth

What complications do people with hyperdontia face?

The presence of supernumerary teeth, especially only one or two may not cause any complications to your day-to-day routine or your oral health. However, severe cases with multiple supernumerary teeth may be a cause for concern.

Crowded Teeth Gum

Some risks of additional sets of teeth are:

  • Impacted supernumerary tooth that is partially or fully trapped in your jawbone.
  • Overcrowding of teeth due to blockage of proper eruption of deciduous teeth.
  • Bite problems or malocclusion, including alignment of the jaws.
  • Tooth decay or cavity in adjacent teeth.
  • Gum problems due to the proximity of teeth.
  • Chewing problems
  • Speech impediments
  • Facial deformities 
  • Cysts and tumors

What goes into the diagnosis of hyperdontia?

It is easy to diagnose hyperdontia if the teeth have already erupted.

In cases where the teeth have not grown in fully, your dentist will take a dental x-ray. They may also use a CT scan to get a more thorough look at your teeth, gums, and jaw.

How is hyperdontia treated?

Many people with hyperdontia don’t need any form of treatment.

But if your extra teeth are interfering with your oral function and health or your general quality of life, your dentist may recommend removing the extra teeth.

A tooth extraction may be a good option for you if you:

  • Have difficulty chewing.
  • Feel spontaneous or continuous pain or discomfort.
  • Face difficulty properly brushing or flossing.
  • Are embarrassed about the way your teeth look.
  • Have difficulty maintaining your oral health.

Mild to moderate cases of extra teeth can be easily manageable.

If you’re under extreme pain or discomfort, you may explore other treatment options like surgical removal, especially of impacted extra sets of teeth.

Orthodontic management 

After appropriate treatment is sought for your extra chompers (involving removal of teeth), you can undergo a personalized treatment that focuses on realigning your teeth with the help of orthodontic treatment.

Braces

Braces or clear aligners can be used to bring your remaining teeth into their right positions as well as prove beneficial in redlining improperly placed jaw bones to fix your bite.

Can you prevent it?

Due to its genetic origin, you can’t avoid or prevent the growth of extra teeth. While there is very little you can do about it, you may be able to control the severity of the condition.

If you notice that your child has developed any number of extra tooth or teeth, you must consult with your dental professional to design an early treatment plan for your child. 

As hyperdontia affects one’s aesthetic and functional abilities, early detection and treatment can be crucial to reduce the risk of any of the aforementioned complications.

What questions should I ask my dentist?

If you have supernumerary teeth, you should regularly visit your dentist for exams, cleanings, and risk assessment for your particular condition. Here are some questions you can ask your dentist to help you along your treatment journey:

  • What has caused hyperdontia in my case?
  • Is my condition hereditary?
  • How severe is my condition and can I develop any complications as a result of it?
  • Should I undergo genetic testing to check for any underlying conditions?
  • Do any of my teeth require removal?

Conclusion

Hyperdontia refers to an uncommon condition that manifests as single or multiple “extra” teeth in your mouth. While the exact cause of hyperdontia is not known, it may have a genetic predisposition. 

Most cases of hyperdontia don’t need treatment. However, there may arise some problems with the teeth including problems with chewing, talking, or swallowing.

Visit your dentist to get examined for your extra teeth so that any complications can be managed early on.

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