Hyperdontia – The Problem Of Too Many Teeth

Whilst tooth loss is a concern for many of us; for some, having too many teeth is a problem.

As we develop as young children, we should eventually have 20 baby, or milk, teeth. As we become adults, this number will grow and a healthy mouth should eventually consist of 32 teeth. This is not always the case though, and some adults also develop additional teeth.

Genetic factors and certain illnesses can contribute to this happening, and when it does, it can create a number of problems for the person concerned. It is particularly likely in people suffering from a Cleft lip, Gardner’s disease or Down syndrome. Twice as many men are likely to have this problem, than women.

In most cases of hyperdontia, just one or two extra teeth are likely to be present, but even more additional teeth are not unheard of. In one very rare case, 232 teeth were removed from a boy’s mouth in India (reference 1). Instances like this though are extremely rare and few people will have more than a couple of additional teeth. In some cases, hyperdontia can not only cause aesthetic problems, but can also lead to facial deformities and speech problems.

Not all additional teeth, also known as supernumerary teeth, may necessarily look like a natural tooth and can take many forms. These include small ‘peg’ like shapes, conical teeth and those that have a tooth like shape but are significantly smaller.

Also, not all additional teeth are necessarily visible, and some may not have yet erupted. These will show up during the x-rays that we take from time to time during your regular check ups.

The risks and complications

Where just one or two additional teeth are present, providing that they are healthy, you may not even be aware of them until you have a check up at our Clapham dental clinic. Sometimes though, the overcrowding can cause discomfort and even problems with chewing. An overcrowded mouth may mean that some teeth do not have the opportunity to grow correctly and can go on to become quite crooked. Some teeth may even become impacted and not come through properly at all. When this happens, infections are more likely.

An uneven bite is also quite likely in an overcrowded mouth,. This problem, known as malocclusion, can lead to uneven wearing of the teeth and even jaw problems, which can prove to be painful.

Cleaning your teeth effectively may be very difficult if your teeth are crowded together. Where there is insufficient space between the teeth to allow you to floss between them, tooth decay and gum disease are likely to follow.

Does hyperdontia need to be treated?

Depending on the number and location of any additional teeth, it may not be necessary to treat them. At the Confidental Clinic, we prefer not to remove a healthy tooth unless it is really necessary. For this reason, providing that there are no associated problems with them, and they are causing you no discomfort, we may take a ‘wait and see’ approach, monitoring the situation during your regular checkups. Naturally, if a suspected problem arises between these appointments, patients should contact us straight away for an appointment.

Where the extra teeth are causing a problem, extracting them, using orthodontics, or a combination of both, are options that are available. A thorough examination will be carried out to assess the best approach to take in each individual circumstance.

Where the problem is largely cosmetic, orthodontics may be used to straighten your teeth. There are a large range of dental braces available at our Clapham practice, including Damon braces, Invisalign and cosmetic fixed braces, and the most appropriate one will be chosen, in consultation with the patient. Each of these has their own unique role and many also offer the benefits of being near invisible whilst being worn. We will discuss the pros and cons of each system with you, should you require orthodontic treatment. Orthodontics may also be used, following extraction, to realign your teeth correctly.

If problematic teeth are not removed when necessary, this may lead not only to discomfort but also problems such as cysts and even, potentially, tumours. For this reason, it is important that you are monitored regularly by one of our Clapham dental team.

As we have mentioned earlier, the best way to discover if you have any additional teeth that need to be treated, is to see your local dentist on a regular basis. Where supernumerary teeth are discovered, treatment options will be discussed and the most appropriate plan chosen in consultation with you.

Check up appointments should be made at six monthly intervals. If you have had to miss one for any reason, please call the Confidental Clinic in Clapham on 020 7801 9060 to make sure that you get back into your regular cycle of dental care.