“Tooth agenesis” is the medical term for missing teeth. It’s a congenital condition, meaning you’re born with it. People with dental agenesis don’t have certain teeth because those teeth never developed. Tooth agenesis can happen on its own or in combination with other conditions. Treatments include dentures, dental bridges or dental implants.
Tooth agenesis is a condition in which a person is born without some of their teeth. In other words, certain teeth never developed. Tooth agenesis can involve both primary (baby) and permanent (adult) teeth. But it most commonly affects permanent teeth.
There are three main types of dental agenesis: anodontia, hypodontia and oligodontia.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Tooth agenesis affects between 3% and 10% of the U.S. population. It’s slightly more common in women and people assigned female at birth.
Dental agenesis can occur in any area of your mouth. But the teeth most commonly missing in people with tooth agenesis include the:
If you’re missing teeth, it can make eating and speaking more difficult. It can also lead to inadequate bone growth, which may make your jaw look smaller than it should be.
The main symptom of tooth agenesis is missing teeth. People with this condition also sometimes have:
Tooth agenesis is also a symptom of some genetic disorders, like ectodermal dysplasia. People with ectodermal dysplasia might have:
An abnormality of the dental lamina usually causes tooth agenesis. The dental lamina is a band of tissue under your gums where your teeth form. Statistically, family history is responsible for most cases of dental agenesis. But other factors can cause it, too.
Parents have the potential to pass dental agenesis down to their biological children. There are several genes involved in tooth formation, including:
Depending on the responsible gene, inheritance can follow different modes. Healthcare providers determine genetic disorders by looking at two copies of a gene — one from each biological parent.
People inherit tooth agenesis in one of four ways:
Dental agenesis can occur in combination with other health conditions, including:
Dental agenesis may develop following childhood cancer treatments, such as:
A dentist or other healthcare provider typically diagnoses tooth agenesis during a routine examination. If they suspect dental agenesis, they’ll take dental X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.
Dentists treat dental agenesis with orthodontics or teeth replacement treatments. These options might include:
Children with tooth agenesis usually wear partial dentures until they’re old enough for other treatments.
Tooth agenesis often runs in families, so there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. It’s important to note that even if you have dental agenesis, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll pass it on to your children.
Tooth agenesis isn’t life-threatening. But it can certainly interfere with daily routines such as eating and speaking. This can have a negative impact on your quality of life.
Talk to your dentist if you decide to seek treatment for tooth agenesis. They can discuss your options with you in detail and find a solution that fits your unique needs and personal preferences.
If your child has dental agenesis, talk to your dentist about treatment options. Many children wear partial dentures until their bones are fully developed. Once they stop growing, they can benefit from dental implants or other more permanent options.
If you’re concerned about missing teeth or spaces in your smile, talk to a dentist about treatment options. There are many different teeth replacement solutions, and they can help find one that works best for you.
If you have tooth agenesis, here are some questions you might want to ask a dentist or healthcare provider:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Tooth agenesis is a condition characterized by congenitally missing teeth. (This means that people with the condition never developed certain teeth.) Without treatment, dental agenesis can interfere with eating, speaking and your overall quality of life. If you or your child has tooth agenesis, talk to your dentist about treatments to restore your appearance and oral health.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/23/2022.
Learn more about our editorial process.