Axenfield-Rieger Syndrome is a rare genetic condition that primarily affects the eyes. But dental symptoms can also arise including oligodontia (developing fewer teeth than normal) and microdontia (development of smaller than normal teeth). If your child has Axenfeld-Rieger, there are a few dental treatment options to make chewing more comfortable and improve the appearance.
Oligodontia: Bridges, Dental Implants
Two of the most common ways to replace missing teeth are bridges and dental implants. Bridges involve an artificial tooth suspended between two crowns. Those crowns are then bonded to neighboring, healthy teeth for stability.
Dental implants involve implanting an artificial tooth root, which becomes fused to the jawbone. An artificial tooth is then snapped into place over this root. Implants tend to feel closest to natural teeth than any other replacement because the tooth is held firmly in place.
If your child is still young enough that the jawbone is still growing and permanent teeth are still coming in, your dentist might recommend a bridge or simply leaving the missing teeth alone until the permanent teeth come in. Older teens can often go ahead with dental implants, as the jawbone usually doesn't shift significantly after this age.
Microdontia: Crowns, Spacers and Braces
Overly small teeth might seem like merely a cosmetic issue. But small teeth can eventually cause neighboring, average-sized teeth to shift out of place due to the lack of support. This shifting can in turn cause bite problems such as a crossbite, which make chewing and even speaking more difficult. It's important to fill those gaps as quickly as possible especially in young children who are still developing.
If your child is still fairly young, your dentist might use temporary crowns on overly small baby teeth. Your child might also receive spacers to hold these teeth in place while the other baby teeth – or new permanent teeth – begin to come in. This helps prevent those leaning teeth during development. Both the temporary crowns and the spacers are removable once your child is old enough for more permanent treatments.
Once all of the permanent teeth are in, the dentist will likely use permanent crowns to fix any teeth that are overly small. Braces can then be used to create any bite problems that might have happened despite using the spacers. Adults might opt for clear braces, which use a series of custom-fitted trays to slowly shift the teeth into proper position.
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