November 28, 2015
Teeth vary in size from person to person, and the only relative comparison is teeth in the same mouth. Usually a beautiful and healthy smile is characterized by straight teeth of the same general size, in neat rows. However, sometimes teeth develop abnormally. What if one or several teeth grow bigger than normal, especially in comparison to neighboring teeth? This condition is called macrodontia. Other names for the anomaly include megadontia, megalodontia, and gigantism. The opposite of macrrodontia is microdontia, where teeth grow in smaller than usual. These noticeable differences in size are not very common, though you have likely noticed at least someone with a smile overwhelmed by large front teeth or incisors. Dentists and physicians often consider macrodontia an anomaly, not a deformity. Deformities are often more impairing and serious.
What Causes Macrodontia?
This anomaly isn’t something that suddenly happens to an adult, but rather occurs while teeth grow in. This is why most often, the anomaly is an area of study in pediatric dentistry. Macrodontia is associated with several syndromes, including KBG syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome, and hemihyperplasia. However, the most common cause of macrodontia in children comes down to genetics. Family lines with developmental disabilities might also have macrodontia, sometimes between generations or also among siblings. Studies also show ethnicity can be a factor, with higher incidences in Asian populations. Also, the condition is more common in males than in females.
Three Types of Macrodontia
There are three main classifications of this abnormality, including:
1. True Generalized Macrodontia
In this classification all teeth grow in larger than normal. The condition is extrememly rare of most often seen in cases of pituitary gigantism (growth hormhone excess).
2. Relative Generalized Macrodontia
In this case teeth are only slightly larger than average and often occurs in particularly small jaws. So actually, teeth might be normal or only slightly larger in size, but only appear abnormal out of illusion. The condition is also called pseudomacrodontia. This can happen because of genetics, when a child inherits jaw size from one parent and tooth size from the other.
3. Macrodontia of a Single Tooth
Just as it sounds, this classification involves a normal tooth in every aspect, aside from size. It is an isolated tooth displaying macrodontia and is also highly unusual. It can result from twinning abnormalities that occur during the development of teeth. The most common twinning abnormalities are known as fusion and germination, result in enlarged crowns.
What Should You Do About Macrodontia?
Not all cases will require treatment. Macrodontia often has fewer complications when compared to more serious problems, such as a cleft palate. In fact, many adults who have dealt with macrodontia since childhood continue along and avoid all problems and side effects. That said, there are a few reasons you might consider treatment of the anomaly. Some patients get treatment to:
Ways the Dentist Can Diagnose and Correct Macrodontia
The dentist diagnosis macrodontian by simple observation, measurement, and comparison with standard tooth size. If the tooth overfills its space in the dental arch it could cause crowding, rotation, and misalignment of adjacent teeth. To prevent disturbances in the arch and problems with occlusion, most dentists recommend early treatment. The leading treatments include:
1. Contouring (Enameloplasty)
Sometimes the dentist can shave off portions of an oversized tooth (resizing or stripping). With this treatment the dentist can change tooth size and shape. Generally the results are minimal, but can be effective in several cases. However, contouring can only go so far. Otherwise the dentist puts the dentin and dental pulp at risk if he or she cuts too much of the enamel away.
This is the standard treatment for poorly aligned teeth, and might also correct malocclusion caused by macrodontia. Success depends on the morphology and size of macrodonts (larger teeth). The dentist uses braces or other orthodontic appliances to create space for the larger teeth. Then they grow in properly and do not disrupt the development of neighboring teeth.
Though not a preferred method of treatment, it might be necessary. The dentist can remove oversized teeth and replace them with prosthetics to treat the condition. Dentists reserve this treatment for patients who suffer from constant jaw joint pain caused by macrodontia, but who cannot benefit from contouring or orthodontics.
If you think you or a loved one might have a more serious case of macrodontia do not hesitate to seek a professional diagnosis and treatment from a dentist. The anomaly could impact their oral health, especially when not corrected in a timely manner.