Posted on: 7 January 2022
Supernumerary means extra, beyond what is needed, or surplus to requirements—so you can probably guess what a supernumerary tooth is. The trouble is that your dental arch is configured to hold a certain number of teeth, and anything beyond that creates the risk of dental overcrowding. This can lead to issues with the alignment and general health of your teeth. There are subcategories of supernumerary teeth, and some are more problematic than others. A mesiodens tooth is supernumerary and is often identified and treated during childhood. So what should an adult do when their dentist tells them that they have a mesiodens tooth?
Upper Dental Arch
A mesiodens tooth is one that develops in the upper dental arch, either between or directly behind your incisors. If it erupts from the gum line, it won't resemble an incisor and is more likely to be cone-shaped. These teeth develop alongside adult teeth. If present, this type of tooth will form at the same time a child begins dental exfoliation (when baby teeth detach and are replaced by adult teeth). They're most often identified during childhood and are usually simply extracted.
Diagnosis in Adulthood
It's not impossible for a mesiodens tooth to escape detection well into adulthood. This can be the case when the tooth is present, yet impacted (meaning it didn't erupt from the gumline). Since a mesiodens tooth is easily spotted during routine diagnostic testing (also known as an annual dental x-ray), arguably an adult who doesn't attend their regular dental checkups is more likely to have an undetected impacted mesiodens tooth. But since the tooth has been present since childhood, do you need to take action once it has been discovered?
Cosmetic or Clinical
Your incisors may have been adversely affected by the impacted mesiodens tooth. This may have caused them to grow at an improper angle, leading to misalignment. If the functionality of these teeth hasn't been compromised, the issue may be largely cosmetic (involving extraction, followed by cosmetic or orthodontic treatment to straighten the affected teeth). However, a mesiodens tooth may cause more significant clinical issues.
An impacted mesiodens tooth can lead to premature root resorption of neighbouring teeth. This is because the supernumerary tooth is actively weakening the root structures of these teeth, progressively destabilising them in the process. Even if this hasn't yet become an issue, it may yet become a problem in the future. This is why extraction of a mesiodens tooth is standard. Because the tooth is impacted, your dentist will need to make an incision in your gums to access the tooth. Your gums will then be sutured, and recovery time is minimal.
Someone with an impacted mesiodens tooth doesn't need to be concerned, but given the potential future risk posed by this supernumerary tooth, you can expect that it will be extracted.
Contact a local dentist to learn more.Share