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Steve Wake takes a look at the problem of treating children who have no adult teeth to replace the milk teeth.
By Naomi Todd
As a parent I was concerned to learn that it is fairly common to have congenitally missing teeth. This means that sometimes, when the baby teeth fall out there is no adult tooth to come through and replace it.
Having a missing tooth can cause a variety of problems, reduced chewing ability, pronunciation problems, reduced bone growth, periodontal damage (gum disease) and malocclusion (imperfect positioning of the teeth when the mouth is closed). It is very common to have wisdom teeth missing but these teeth are not as useful as the other molars and premolars. These other teeth are essential for eating being the teeth that you chew with. Approximately 2% of the population have one or more adult teeth missing and most dentists will have come across the issue at some point in their careers.
A congenitally missing tooth or teeth should be identified as early as possible as it is essential to plan treatment for the space. For example, it would be preferable to pay additional attention to the neighbouring teeth and instruct a patient to pay extra care to these teeth as in the future a bridge might be required.
I am dealing with a case at the moment where an LR5 was congenitally missing. Not only did the General Dental Practitioner fail to identify that this tooth was missing but he provided substandard treatment to the neighbouring tooth which meant that this tooth (the LR6) was lost. My client requires implants to both areas when she is an adult and her treatment could have been very different and her options more varied, had she received reasonable treatment.
Your children’s teeth are very important to their development, not just in what they eat but how they speak and of course they can affect confidence. I would urge you to take your children to the dentist from an early age. Not necessarily for full check-ups but, as a nervous patient sometimes myself, it makes the visits seem normal and helps to remove any anxiety that might be passed on. There is probably a sticker in it for them too.
If you feel that your child has received substandard treatment please get in touch. We have dealt with a number of cases like the one above and this has enabled children to receive compensation and in particular the costs associated with lifelong treatment as a result of negligence.