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Dental and Oral Health (Children)

Supernumery tooth

11/22/2006

Question:

During a routine dental visit an x-ray showed my 9 year old had a supernumerary tooth above # 9, inverted and buccally. What is it and what causes it? Also, even though we can’t see it and it causes no pain, can it cause problems later for him?

Answer:

This is a great question with a lot of impact on a child's overall dental health. Supernumerary teeth are extra teeth other than the typical 20 baby teeth and 32 adult teeth a person may have over their life. These supernumerary teeth can sometimes be the result of an additional tooth bud being present during the developmental stages of tooth growth. In other instances, supernumerary teeth are the result of a tooth "twinning" and giving rise to another tooth.

You are correct in that in some instances these teeth cause no pain and are buried within the jawbones. However, even though they may not be visibly doing damage - they can be. A common type of supernumerary tooth is called a "mesiodens".  It is typically between the two upper front teeth (central incisors) and can cause these teeth to come in crooked or, in some cases not at all.
Supernumerary teeth can block the eruption of regular teeth, and with their positioning can sometimes place pressure on the roots of other teeth causing root resorption, causing irreversible damage. Finally, in some cases due to positioning and development of neighboring teeth, treatment may be deferred or not termed necessary.

Having the extra tooth identified is a great start and often a combination of dental specialists, including a pediatric dentist, orthodontist and oral/maxillofacial surgeon will diagnose and treat supernumerary teeth as a team. The key is understanding that supernumerary teeth need to be regularly followed by a dentist -- a real benefit of having your child in a "Dental Home" - a site where all their oral healthcare needs can be addressed.

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Response by:

Sarath  Thikkurissy, DDS, MS Sarath Thikkurissy, DDS, MS
Associate Professor of Pediatric Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University