It’s often recommended that you first bring your child to a pediatric dentist around age one, or whenever the first tooth erupts, for a checkup. While most children have completely normal first-time and subsequent visits, some children will experience a rare phenomenon that can be detrimental to their oral health. This rare occurrence is known as mesiodens, and it simply refers to your child having an extra tooth.
What is Mesiodens?
Mesiodens is a supernumerary, or extra, tooth inside your child’s mouth. Most often, the location of this tooth is behind the central incisors in the palate area, better known as the two upper front teeth. Having mesiodens accounts for only about one percent of the population, so it is a relatively rare condition.
However, it can and does occur, so parents should be aware of it. If left untreated, this extra tooth can actually be harmful. Early detection and treatment of mesiodens are crucial to keeping your child’s teeth healthy and strong.
What Causes Mesiodens?
The exact cause of mesiodens is not yet entirely known. Because it only affects a small percentage of people, there is not enough research available to come to any specific conclusion on why they occur. However, many believe that it could be genetic and run in families.
Theories have circulated about how mesiodens could be the result of an underlying root essentially separating to form another tooth. Overactive dental lamina, which is the band of tissue around developing teeth, is sometimes to blame for this condition.
Risks of Mesiodens and Failing to Seek Treatment
While it might seem interesting and unique to have an extra tooth, the condition can pose a problem to your child’s oral health. Because this extra tooth is located in the palate area directly behind the central incisors, food, plaque, and other debris can become lodged around the tooth. This can cause issues with tooth decay, gingivitis, and gum disease.
It’s not uncommon for cysts and abscesses to form around the extra tooth simply because it gets in the way of oral functioning, and it is difficult to keep completely clean. Your child may have a hard time speaking or chewing because of the extra tooth, and it may even irritate the tongue.
Over time and as your child’s permanent teeth begin to develop, the mesiodens can interfere with healthy growth and development. This can cause severe orthodontic problems, which include crowding, misalignment, and malocclusion. Likewise, there is an aesthetic concern when it comes to the presence of mesiodens. Children may be embarrassed by an extra tooth and might avoid smiling or laughing as a result.
Importance of Routine Dental Visits and Mesiodens
Because early detection of mesiodens is so important for successful treatment, you should make sure your child is going for routine dental visits. The presence of mesiodens can easily be seen on a dental X-ray. A routine examination performed by a dentist can also be helpful in finding the extra tooth and creating a treatment plan that is right for your child.
It is recommended that children have regular dental checkups once every six months. This allows the dentist to check for tooth decay and other intraoral abnormalities. If you suspect that your child may have an extra tooth, it is vital that they receive care for it as soon as possible.
Professionals recommend that mesiodens treatment should begin before age five. This prevents any underlying permanent teeth from being impacted by the extra tooth in its current position. Effective and early removal of mesiodens can even help kids avoid years of orthodontic treatments that are designed to reposition misalignments caused by the extra tooth.
Treatment Options for Mesiodens
The best treatment of mesiodens is a full extraction of the supernumerary tooth. Because this tooth can pose a threat to your child’s dental development, it is best to remove it before it becomes a problem. Extraction is quick, easy, and effective at reducing the risk of any issues related to mesiodens.
During the extraction process, your child will receive sedation to relax them and a local anesthetic to numb the upper palate. Specialized dental instruments are used to loosen and remove the extra tooth. Sometimes sutures are needed to help close the small gap that is left behind after the extraction process. Parents should then make sure that routine postoperative care is followed to ensure the mouth heals properly.
Does Your Child Have Mesiodens?
If you suspect that your child has mesiodens, it’s essential to have their mouth examined by a dental professional. With the help of X-rays, the dentist can create a personalized treatment plan just for your child. It is important to have these extra teeth removed as soon as possible to prevent future problems from developing and causing dental issues for surrounding teeth.
Even if your child has never seen a dentist, it’s never too late to schedule your child’s first dental appointment. Not only will you get your kids off to a great start when it comes to their dental health, but your dentist will also be able to detect mesiodens and other oral problems before they become serious issues.