Too Much of a Good Thing: The Case of Hyperdontia (Supernumerary Teeth)

Most people already know the standard ‘blueprint’ for teeth eruption: during childhood, a person has 20 teeth, then one by one, they hand these over to the tooth fairy in return for a penny, or 32 adult teeth.

This standard blueprint, however, deviates from the norm every now and again.

orthodontic treatmentThe Case of Hyperdontia

Some people develop more than 20 primary teeth—or more than 32 permanent teeth. This condition is called hyperdontia, and the additional teeth after the standard number are called supernumerary teeth. The presence of supernumerary teeth is actually more common than most people think, with reports varying from 1 to 2.5 percent of the world’s population receiving an extra chomper (or two—or more).

The Common Locations of Supernumerary Teeth

The most common location of a supernumerary tooth is in the maxillary region (upper jaw)—particularly between the two front teeth. This type of supernumerary tooth is called the mesiodent, and it needs to be extracted so that the proper teeth have space to grow. Another common type of supernumerary tooth is called the distodent, which is the extra premolar on the mandible (lower jaw).

Theories, Theories, Theories

It has not yet been established why these extra teeth develop, but there are many theories that attempt to explain the occurrence.

One theory is that it is hereditary, that a patient’s genetics are related to the development of hyperdontia. A second theory proposes that these extra teeth develop because of an unnatural division of the tooth bud.

Finally, a third theory suggests that the extra teeth are the result of hyperactivity within the dental lamina (a band of cells that spur the growth of new teeth).

The Consequences

Left untreated, hyperdontia can cause a range of dental problems. For one, they cause the failure of eruption in adjacent teeth. Second, they can displace other permanent teeth and can lead to the development of tumours. The most common issue is that once the supernumerary teeth erupt, crowding occurs in the mouth.

Studies show that patients suffering from the condition often have problems like Gardner’s syndrome, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, and cleidocranial dysplasia.

Treatment Options

Depending on the form and position of the supernumerary tooth, there are several options when it comes to dealing with the condition. Orthodontic treatment often helps, and extraction may also be necessary.

Children should typically receive a dental evaluation by the age of 7 as well, as this helps uncover potential complications due to hyperdontia.

At Botanics Dental Care, we can help you determine what to do in the rare case of a supernumerary tooth. Call us today to schedule an appointment.