"Hypodontia" is the medical term for being born missing some teeth. It's a type of dental agenesis, which is a term used by doctors to describe congenitally missing teeth. ("Congenitally" implies that you were born with the condition.) A person with hypodontia is missing one to six teeth (not counting wisdom teeth). Hypodontia affects between 2% and 8% of the general population and it can also be inherited by anyone.

Hypodontia can affect any part of your mouth. However, the teeth that are most commonly missing in people with hypodontia are the upper and lower lateral incisors, and upper and lower second premolars. Depending on the number of teeth involved, the phenomenon can be classified as follows: One to six missing teeth, excluding the third molars, are referred to as hypodontia. Oligodontia is defined as the absence of six or more permanent teeth, excluding the third molars. On the other hand, Anodontia is the absence of all teeth. In the existing literature, several theories regarding the aetiology of hypodontia have been proposed. Various theories have been proposed, with the majority of them focusing on genetic and environmental factors and how they may both be involved. However, the precise cause is unknown. The extent to which genetic and environmental factors influence individuals is still being debated.

In primary dentition, hypodontia is less common, with reported prevalence rates ranging from 0.5% in the Icelandic population to 2.4% in the Japanese population. The lateral incisors, both maxillary and mandibular, are the teeth most likely to be missing in the primary dentition. If a deciduous tooth is missing, the likelihood of an absent successor increases.

If your doctor suspects you have hypodontia, dental X-rays can confirm the diagnosis. A dentist will look for other signs of hypodontia during an exam, such as small teeth, peg-shaped teeth, and spacing between teeth. Braces or other types of orthodontic treatment such as partial dentures, dental bridges, and dental implants are examples of hypodontia treatments. Children with hypodontia are usually fitted with partial dentures until they are old enough to receive other treatments.

Hypodontia is the most common craniofacial malformation in humans, as it may occur as part of a recognised genetic syndrome or as a no-syndromic isolated trait. The most commonly missing teeth are the mandibular second premolars and the maxillary lateral incisors. While it is not known whether individuals with hypodontia have characteristic skeletal features and growth patterns, several clinical features are commonly seen, including microdontia, transposition of permanent teeth, ectopic permanent teeth, and infra occlusion of primary molar teeth Since hypodontia is usually hereditary, there is nothing you can do to prevent it.

However, just because you have hypodontia does not mean you will pass it on to your children. Hypodontia is not a dangerous or life-threatening condition, however, if left untreated, it can severely impair your quality of life. Dentists, orthodontists, and other dental providers, fortunately, can treat and manage the condition with personalised care. Finally, it is also likely that specific hypodontia pathways have some effect on the function and psychosocial well-being of an individual, given the aesthetic, functional, and financial burden for affected individuals.