Three year-old missing four adult teeth

Dear Kim,

My 3 1/2yo daughter just had a panoramic x-ray at her last visit to the dentist. The dentist said the x ray showed she is missing 4 of her adult teeth. (The top 4 eye teeth). He also said this is hereditary on the father's side and asked if we had any toothless relatives. I have never heard of such a thing and no I do not have any toothless relatives! Could you offer any more information of the possibility of missing adult teeth? What are the statistics and the odds that these teeth will yet grow in???

Thank you for your assistance


Dear Judy,

When teeth are missing, there can be a genetic component, but I haven't read anything that states whether it's usually one side versus the other. Also, at 3 1/2 years old, it may be difficult to say which teeth are missing.

While it certainly is possible that the "eye" teeth (or cuspids or canines) may be missing, the most common teeth to be missing or malformed are the lateral incisors. At this age, the tooth buds for the permanent teeth in the anterior region of the mouth are in formation; therefore, if these tooth buds are not present on the x-rays, they will not be there to grow in the mouth.

You might speak to your dentist or ask an orthodontist about the treatment possibilities for the missing teeth. Sometimes, you can move the posterior teeth forward to fill in the space created by the missing teeth, or a space can be made and maintained with the intention of placing bridges or implants to fill in the gaps.

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