Treatment Options for Anodontia

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Humans are born with two sets of teeth: primary teeth that descend starting around 6 months of age, and permanent teeth that erupt when the first set falls out. Unfortunately, sometimes things go wrong during fetal development and a person may be born with no teeth, a rare condition called anodontia. Here's more information about this oral problem and available treatment options.

What Is Anodontia?

Anodontia is a genetic disorder, caused by an recessive gene that causes a person to be born without most or all their teeth. Very rarely does this condition occur independently. In most cases, anodontia is a symptom of an overarching disorder or syndrome. The lack of teeth is usually accompanied by other symptoms such as hair and skin abnormalities.

The most severe form of this condition occurs when a person is born with no primary nor permanent teeth. However, a dentist may diagnose someone with anodontia if they have primary but no permanent teeth or the person has primary and permanent teeth but a significant number are missing (e.g. the entire top row).

This condition presents at birth, so there currently isn't any way to prevent it. Additionally, it can be years before a patient is diagnosed as a parent may not seek treatment until it becomes obvious the child's teeth aren't erupting as expected.

Treating Anodontia

To diagnose anodontia, a dentist will typically take X-rays of the mouth, which will reveal whether the patient has teeth and how many. Once the condition is confirmed, the treatment options available will depend on the person's age, the condition of his or her mouth, and the individual's financial resources.


Dentures are typically the first line treatment for this problem, especially if the person is a child or teen. That's because the mouths of kids and adolescents are constantly changing as they mature and dentures are flexible enough to keep up during their growth periods. Additionally, dentures are the least expensive option, costing anywhere from $300 to $4,000 per plate depending on materials and number of teeth being replaced. However, your dental insurance provider may contribute to the cost.

There are several drawbacks with dentures, though. They take quite awhile to get acclimated to them. Until that happens, they can interfere with a person's ability to speak and eat. This can be particularly challenging for children to deal with, and the child may need to undergo speech therapy.

Another problem is dentures don't stimulate the jaw like regular teeth do. This can result in the loss of jaw bone over time, leading to changes in physical appearance that may not be desirable (e.g. sunken cheeks, facial lines).

Dental implants

Dental implants are the other option for correcting anodontia. Implants are false teeth that are directly attached to the jaw bone via titanium posts. These days, dental implants are the preferred tooth replacement option because they look and behave just like regular teeth. They are long lasting and don't require frequent adjustments like dentures. There's no adjustment period beyond the healing time, and they can prevent jaw bone loss.

However, this option is generally only available to adults and older adolescents who have stopped growing. As noted previously, the mouth continuously changes as a child grows, and placing a permanent appliance at a young age can cause problems down the line.

Cost is another issue. Getting a mouth full of implants is prohibitively expensive. A single tooth implant can cost an average of $4,000, so the cost of a full row of top and bottom teeth will likely be out of reach for most, especially since dental insurance typically doesn't pay for this type of cosmetic dentistry. However, implant-supported dentures (dentures locked in place by implants to prevent slipping) are little more affordable at around $6,305 per plate.

For more information about anodontia or these treatment options, visit resources like