Missing Lateral Incisors

missing laterals

As orthodontists, we see a variety of teeth issues every day, one of the most common being congenitally absent teeth. Most people will grow 32 permanent teeth during their lifetime. However, when teeth fail to fully develop this is known as congenitally absent or missing teeth.

These are the most commonly missing teeth:

  • Wisdom teeth,
  • Second premolars: the teeth just in front of your molars,
  • Upper lateral incisors: these are the two teeth that are beside your top front teeth, and
  • Lower central incisors: these are the two front teeth on your lower jaw.

Congenitally absent teeth can cause people to feel self-conscious about their appearance, especially when it occurs at the front of the mouth displaying gaps between the teeth. The most commonly absent tooth is the lateral incisor, this affects approximately 2% of the population.

What Causes Congenitally Missing Teeth?

The way our teeth are formed is a very complex process, and often the way they are formed is influenced by genetics. In simple terms, congenitally missing teeth is where one or more teeth never develop. This is due to there being no adult tooth to push through and therefore, in some cases, people retain their baby teeth.

Treatment Options for Congenitally Absent Teeth

Generally, there are two different ways we manage these cases, depending on the way your teeth fit together, your facial profile and tooth size and colour. Here at Ethos, our orthodontists look at expanding the space in your mouth to replace the missing teeth. On the other hand, our orthodontists can tailor your treatment to close the gaps between your teeth.

Opening Space

One treatment option is to create the right amount of space in your mouth to replace the missing teeth. Typically, your orthodontist will use a type of tooth-supported restoration to fill in the gaps. Depending on your age, we might suggest using a bonded bridge, traditional bridge, implant or sometimes a removable plate.

For example, a past Ethos patient’s upper lateral incisors were missing; this resulted in spacing in their front teeth. After discussing their case in a consultation, their treatment team decided to move the central incisors together. Due to the age of the patient, the ethos team decided to not use an implant. Instead, bonded bridges were used in the newly added space. However, the patient will have the option of inserting an implant when they reach adulthood.

missing lateral incisors

Closing Space

The other treatment option is to close the space. By closing the closing space left by a missing tooth, we can guide other teeth into this position to close the gap. For example, by interesting canine teeth, we can use these as substitutes for the missing lateral incisors. Consequently, the teeth further back are then moved forward. To achieve the most aesthetic results, your Ethos treatment team may suggest having the canines and premolars reshaped to look more like the teeth that have been replaced.

These cases show some results that can be achieved with this method.

missing lateral incisors

Thinking About Treatment?

When discussing your teeth needs, your ethos orthodontist will consider a variety of factors before suggesting a treatment option. During your initial consultation, your orthodontists will be able to discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of each treatment. However, you can be assured that no matter which treatment you choose, you’ll love the results.

Dr Shari Prove


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