Congenital missing teeth

It is possible to be born with less than your normal complement of teeth. There are certain genes involved in tooth development but if something goes wrong then it results in missing teeth.

Our teeth start developing whilst we are still in the womb. They develop as tooth buds and lie dormant until the age of 6 months or so when they push through the gums and appear as milk teeth.

This process is known as teething.

Any problems with this development can result in abnormal shaped teeth: badly aligned teeth; faulty structure or missing teeth.

Causes of congenital missing teeth

There are several likely causes.

A viral infection, exposure to toxins or other environmental factors are also a cause. But in most cases a defective gene is responsible.

Defective genes cause conditions such as ‘hypodontia’, ‘oligodontia’ and ‘anodontia’. Hypodontia is defined as missing up to 6 teeth except for the 3rd set of molars.

Oligondontia is where someone is missing more than 6 teeth except for the 3rd set of molars or wisdom teeth.

Anodontia means a complete absence of milk and permanent teeth. This is a very rare condition.

Missing teeth can also be a part of a congenital disorder such as cleft palate, Down’s syndrome or Rieger syndrome.

Explanations of these conditions can be found in our glossary.

The wisdom teeth are the teeth we are most likely to be born without.