If you have a tooth that is small and pointy on either side of your front teeth, you have either a peg lateral incisor or a retained deciduous tooth. Here's what you need to know.
Peg laterals vs retained deciduous teeth
Microndontia is a term used to describe abnormally small teeth and may affect as many as 8.4% of the population. The most common teeth that are affected by microdontia are the maxillary lateral incisors, which are the teeth located on either side of the two front teeth. These teeth are called peg laterals, which typically affect both sides (bilaterally). Essentially, peg lateral incisors are adult teeth that are small due to genetics or due to the teeth not forming correctly.
Retained deciduous teeth is the dental term used to describe baby teeth that never came out and, therefore, never got replaced by permanent teeth. The first thing you'll need to determine is whether or not you lost your baby lateral incisor(s). Your dentist can determine the cause of your small teeth by viewing your dental x-rays.
Your first concern may likely be appearance, but it's important to understand the other potential problems that are associated with peg lateral incisors and retained deciduous teeth. The teeth on either side of the front teeth are used to chew foods. Since yours are smaller than they should be, you likely have problems with chewing tough foods.
The space in the gums surrounding the smaller teeth may cause your teeth to migrate, which can affect your appearance and bite. And foods can easily get trapped in the large spaces. Another thing to be concerned about is that, sometimes, small teeth have weak roots, which can make the teeth susceptible to getting knocked out in a minor impact or accident.
Fortunately, there are several treatment options for peg lateral incisors and retained deciduous teeth. However, these options are based on the strength of the root and whether or not there is enough space to work with. A small tooth with a strong root can be treated with a crown or a veneer if the space around the tooth is appropriately-sized for a normal incisor. However, if the root is weak, it may not be strong enough to support a crown or veneer. Your dentist may recommend extraction followed by a dental implant in place of the extracted tooth or a bridge to fill the gap.
If there isn't enough space to secure a dental crown or a veneer to the small tooth, you may need braces to slowly migrate the surrounding teeth away from the small tooth to create a larger space. After the orthodontic treatment is complete, you'll be able to move forward with getting a crown or a veneer placed on the small tooth.
Choosing between a crown and a veneer may be determined by the size and condition of the small tooth. Teeth that are damaged can be more protected by full crowns than by veneers, especially if there is a lack of enamel in the back of the tooth. The reason for this is that full crowns cover the entire tooth. Veneers only sit on the front of the tooth. For extremely small teeth, a veneer would essentially be a 3/4 crown.
Given all of the variables that need to be considered when choosing a treatment option for your small teeth, it's a good idea to get several opinions from cosmetic dentists. Ask each dentist you consult with to show you several before and after photographs of patients that they have treated for the same condition with the same variables. For more information, talk to a dentist at an office such as Pittsburgh Dental Spa.