The average child has twenty baby teeth, with the teeth evenly spread between their top and bottom jaws. Sometimes, children have less than twenty teeth. This can have many causes, but one of the most surprising diagnoses is tooth fusion; this means that two of the teeth are fused together, forming one tooth. Here's what parents need to know about tooth fusion.
What causes tooth fusion?
Tooth fusion occurs very early in the development of teeth, but researchers still aren't sure what the exact cause of tooth fusion is. One theory is that if two tooth buds are too close together, they will develop into a single tooth, instead of two. Another theory is that tooth fusion has a genetic link, which is supported by the fact that this condition sometimes occurs as part of a genetic syndrome.
What do fused teeth look like?
Fused teeth look very different from normal teeth, so you don't need to be a trained dentist to see the signs. This condition also usually affects the incisors or the canines, the teeth in the front of the mouth, so it is visible. Fused teeth will either look like one oversized tooth that is clearly larger than the ones around it, or they will look like two teeth that are stuck together.
Can both baby and permanent teeth become fused?
Tooth fusion can affect either baby teeth or permanent teeth, but it's more common to see this condition in baby teeth. Studies have found that between 0.5% and 2.5% of baby teeth are fused, while between 0.1% and 1.0% of permanent teeth are fused.
Are fused teeth just a cosmetic problem?
Fused teeth aren't always just a cosmetic problem. They can sometimes be a sign of genetic syndromes such as osteopetrosis or focal dermal hypoplasia, where fused teeth are just one of the symptoms of the syndromes.
How are fused teeth treated?
Dentists can treat fused teeth in a couple of different ways. One possible treatment is extraction. If the extracted tooth is a baby tooth, no further treatment is required, but if it's a permanent tooth, the tooth will need to be replaced with a bridge or a dental implant. Another possible treatment is surgically detaching the fused teeth and then restoring their appearance with dental resin or crowns.
Tooth fusion is a serious cosmetic problem that can sometimes be a sign of more serious medical problems. If you think your child has this condition, see your dentist right away to discuss treatment options.