Do you have small teeth? Find out what microdontia is

04 April · 4 minutes

There are many dental anomalies which can affect both the appearance and function of the mouth. Although it’s rare, one of these anomalies is microdontia. This is a condition that can affect the shape and size of the teeth, meaning it’s highly visible and can often affect the self-esteem of the person affected. In this article, we’ll outline what microdontia is, the types and causes, the possible repercussions and diagnosis. We’ll also look into the treatments available for small teeth, such as veneers, crowns and braces.

Microdontia: what is it?

Microdontia is an anomaly in which teeth look smaller than usual. This disorder can show up in both baby teeth and adult teeth and can affect one tooth or many teeth.

Although microdontia is a rare condition, it’s no less important than other dental conditions. In order to avoid more significant problems with the patient’s health, it must be diagnosed correctly.

Small teeth on adults

Microdontia or small teeth on adults can show up in one tooth or several of their teeth. When the patient may have microdontia in a single tooth, it must be correctly diagnosed. In some cases, the tooth may just be a baby tooth that hasn’t fallen out yet. If it’s removed, it has no permanent replacement.

Small teeth in children

When children have microdontia, it shows up as teeth that are much smaller when compared with the size of the roots and gums. Microdontia in children must be carefully diagnosed and should not be confused with baby teeth. When children have a mix of both permanent and baby teeth, the contrast in size makes baby teeth appear even smaller.

A child smiles while showing her small teeth.

What are the different types of microdontia?

Microdontia can be categorized into three main types: partial, generalized and relative.

Partial and localized microdontia

When we talk about partial microdontia, we refer to when only some of the teeth are affected. Localized microdontia refers to when only one tooth is affected.

In cases where only some teeth are affected, it usually appears in the upper lateral incisors, or in some rare cases, in the third molars or premolars. While only some teeth are affected, partial microdontia creates the appearance of an imbalance in the teeth.

Generalized microdontia

While it’s not as common as partial microdontia, generalized microdontia is another type of microdontia which affects the majority or all of the teeth. Often linked to other genetic conditions, generalized microdontia can have a significant impact on the appearance of the smile.

Relative microdontia: how big gums and jawbones can make the teeth seem small

When the jawbone is excessively large, it can make the teeth appear small, which is what we refer to as relative microdontia. In other words, the teeth are normal-sized but appear small when compared to the size of the jawbone.

Relative microdontia can also refer to cases where the gums are big or overdeveloped, making the teeth appear small. Likewise, although the teeth are normal-sized, compared to the size of the gums, they look smaller.

Why are my teeth so small?

If you find yourself asking, “why are my teeth small?”, in this section, we’ll outline what causes microdontia.

What causes microdontia can vary from person to person and the causes are usually tied to both environmental and genetic factors. Some possible causes of small teeth include:

  • Problems during tooth formation: any abnormalities during tooth development in utero or infancy can lead to microdontia.
  • Genetics: genetic factors can heavily influence whether a person develops microdontia. If there is a history of microdontia within a family, it will likely get passed on to future generations.
  • Environment: Environmental factors such as nutritional deficiencies or infections during the development stage of teeth can lead to the development of microdontia.

What are the consequences of microdontia?

There are many consequences of microdontia that can go beyond just affecting the appearance of the teeth. Microdontia can also have a negative impact on speech and the overall functionality of the mouth, as we’ve outlined below:

  • Problems with speech: when microdontia affects certain teeth, particularly the incisors, it can affect speech and pronunciation.
  • Difficulty chewing: Having small teeth can make it difficult to chew food efficiently and properly, which can lead to issues with digestion.
  • Psychological problems: As microdontia is a visible condition affecting the size and shape of the teeth, it can negatively impact the self-esteem of the person affected.
  • Further dental issues: As having small teeth often means there are large spaces between the teeth, this can lead to the accumulation of food and bacteria, making the teeth more susceptible to further dental problems such as tooth decay.

How microdontia is diagnosed

To plan an effective treatment for microdontia, it must be diagnosed correctly. Dental radiographs are a key tool in diagnosing microdontia in patients. Radiographs, otherwise known as X-rays, allow doctors to evaluate the size of the teeth, check if there are any development problems, and plan treatment for microdontia to ensure there are no additional or future complications.

Microdontia or small teeth treatment

Treatments chosen for microdontia vary according to the individual needs of the patient and the severity of their case. To improve the appearance of small teeth, treatments such as cosmetic dentistry or orthodontics are available. Various factors can influence the type of microdontia treatment chosen, including the condition of the patient’s oral health, their age and their aesthetic expectations. Below we outline some of the more common treatments for small teeth.

Veneers for small teeth

Veneers are a popular solution for improving the appearance of small teeth. Veneers are thin shells made of either porcelain or composite and are bonded to the front of the teeth to correct their size, improving their appearance and uniformity. Porcelain veneers are more typically used in cases of small teeth on adults. For children or teenagers with microdontia, composite veneers are more commonly used.

Crowns for small teeth

Crowns can be used for small teeth as protective covers. They are placed on top of the natural crown of the tooth that needs to be covered. Crowns are an effective solution for both improving the appearance and functionality of small teeth.

Dentist shows a sample of a dental implant in a denture model.

Dental implants

Dental implants are a viable option for those wanting a long-lasting solution for missing teeth or teeth affected by microdontia. With dental implants, a dental post is inserted into the mandibular or maxillary bone, and an artificial crown is fixed on top of this. To have a dental implant placed, the teeth affected by microdontia must first be extracted.

Treatment for relative microdontia - when big gums make teeth appear small

In cases of relative microdontia, where the teeth appear small due to big gums, gingivectomies or gingivoplasties can make effective treatments. Both procedures can be used alongside each other to reduce the size of the gums, making the teeth more visible (gingivectomy), and shape the gums for improved aesthetic (gingivoplasty).

Orthodontic treatment for microdontia: braces and aligners for small teeth

Braces and clear aligners are orthodontic treatments that can help solve problems with small teeth. While braces are not a definitive treatment, they can be used to improve the alignment and positioning of the teeth in cases of microdontia. To improve the appearance of small teeth, braces are usually used alongside other treatments.

Align your teeth with Impress clear aligners

For patients with microdontia, Impress offers a discreet treatment option with clear aligners. Our clear aligners are personalized for every patient and can help correct the position of the teeth. Not only does this improve the overall dental aesthetic, but is important to ensure even distribution when chewing. Suitable for both adults and teenagers, Impress treatments can be customized according to the needs of the patient with small teeth, to achieve their preferred aesthetic as well as functional results.

If you’re thinking about a removable aligner treatment with Impress, visit your nearest Impress clinic and meet the expert doctors who will oversee your treatment. You can also schedule a complimentary consultation online or by phone at (888) 490 1421.

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