extra teeth

Supernumerary teeth, also known as hyperdontia, refer to the presence of extra teeth beyond the normal complement in the dental arch. While the normal human dentition consists of 20 primary (deciduous) teeth and 32 permanent teeth, supernumerary teeth can occur in either dentition and can vary widely in their form, location, and number. This condition, though relatively rare, poses significant challenges and implications for dental health, requiring comprehensive understanding and careful management.


Epidemiology and Prevalence

The prevalence of supernumerary teeth varies globally, reported to range from 0.1% to 3.8% in different populations. It is more commonly observed in males than females, with a ratio of approximately 2:1. Supernumerary teeth can appear as single isolated occurrences or as multiple teeth, although the latter is far less common.


Classification of Supernumerary Teeth

Supernumerary teeth are classified based on their morphology and location in the dental arch.


Morphological Classification

  • Conical
  • Tuberculate
  • Supplemental
  • Odontoma



These teeth are peg-shaped and often found in the maxillary anterior region. They are usually small, conical, and have a single root.


These teeth have a barrel-shaped or tuberculated crown and usually have more than one cusp. They are often found in the anterior maxilla.


These are extra teeth that resemble the normal teeth in shape and size. They are most commonly seen as extra molars, known as paramolars or distomolars.


These are considered complex or compound growths, resembling tooth-like structures but are disorganized in their formation.


Positional Classification

  • Mesiodens
  • Paramolars
  • Distomolars



These are the most common type of supernumerary teeth and are located in the maxillary central incisor region.


These are supernumerary teeth located buccally or lingually to the molars.


These are additional teeth located distal to the third molars or wisdom teeth.


Etiology of Extra Teeth

The exact cause of supernumerary teeth is not well understood, but several theories have been proposed:

  • Atavism
  • Dental Lamina Hyperactivity
  • Genetic Factors



This theory suggests that supernumerary teeth are a genetic throwback to our evolutionary ancestors who had more teeth.

Dental Lamina Hyperactivity

This theory posits that hyperactivity in the dental lamina, the tissue that forms teeth, leads to the development of additional tooth buds.

Genetic Factors

Familial tendencies and genetic predispositions are considered significant contributors. Conditions such as cleidocranial dysplasia and Gardner’s syndrome are known to feature supernumerary teeth as a symptom.


Clinical Implications

The presence of supernumerary teeth can lead to various dental problems, including:

  • Crowding
  • Impaction
  • Cyst Formation
  • Diastema



Extra teeth can cause overcrowding, leading to misalignment and malocclusion.


Supernumerary teeth can prevent the eruption of normal teeth, leading to impaction.

Cyst Formation

Impacted supernumerary teeth can lead to cyst formation, which may cause bone loss and damage to adjacent teeth.


Extra teeth, particularly mesiodens, can create gaps between teeth called diastema, leading to aesthetic concerns.


Diagnosis of Supernumerary Teeth

Diagnosis of supernumerary teeth typically involves clinical examination and radiographic imaging. Panoramic X-rays, periapical radiographs, and cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) are commonly used to determine the presence, location, and morphology of supernumerary teeth.


Treatment of Supernumerary Teeth

The treatment of supernumerary teeth depends on several factors, including the type, location, and associated complications.

  • Observation
  • Extraction
  • Orthodontic Treatment



In cases where supernumerary teeth do not cause any immediate problems, a conservative approach of monitoring the teeth may be adopted. Regular dental check-ups are essential to ensure that no complications arise over time.


Extraction is often recommended if the supernumerary teeth cause or are likely to cause complications such as impaction, crowding, or orthodontic issues. The timing of extraction is critical and may vary based on the individual case. For instance, early removal is advisable if a supernumerary tooth is blocking the eruption of a permanent tooth.

Orthodontic Treatment

In cases where supernumerary teeth have caused displacement or crowding, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to realign the teeth. This can include braces or other orthodontic appliances to ensure proper alignment and occlusion.


Case Studies

To illustrate the complexity and variability of supernumerary teeth, several case studies are discussed below.

Case Study 1: Mesiodens in a Young Child

A 7-year-old boy presented with delayed eruption of his maxillary central incisors. Clinical examination revealed a palpable swelling in the midline of the palate. Radiographic examination confirmed the presence of a conical mesiodens. The supernumerary tooth was surgically extracted, and within a few months, the permanent incisors erupted normally.

Case Study 2: Multiple Supernumerary Teeth in Cleidocranial Dysplasia

A 15-year-old girl with a known history of cleidocranial dysplasia presented with multiple unerupted teeth. Panoramic X-ray revealed several supernumerary teeth in both the maxilla and mandible. A multidisciplinary approach involving surgical extraction of selected supernumerary teeth and orthodontic treatment was planned. Over the course of two years, the patient received orthodontic treatment to align the erupted teeth, significantly improving both function and aesthetics.

Case Study 3: Paramolar Leading to Cyst Formation

A 30-year-old man reported swelling and discomfort in the lower jaw. Radiographic examination revealed an impacted paramolar tooth associated with a large cystic lesion. The impacted tooth and cyst were surgically removed, and the defect was treated with bone grafting. Regular follow-up showed satisfactory healing with no recurrence.


Genetic and Syndromic Associations

Supernumerary teeth are often associated with certain genetic syndromes, making genetic evaluation an important aspect of diagnosis in such cases.

  • Cleidocranial Dysplasia
  • Gardner’s Syndrome
  • Down Syndrome


Cleidocranial Dysplasia

This autosomal dominant disorder is characterized by skeletal abnormalities, including delayed closure of cranial sutures, hypoplasia of the clavicles, and multiple supernumerary teeth.

Gardner’s Syndrome

A variant of familial adenomatous polyposis, Gardner’s syndrome presents with multiple osteomas, epidermoid cysts, and supernumerary teeth. Early diagnosis is crucial as this syndrome also has a high risk of colorectal cancer.

Down Syndrome

Individuals with Down syndrome (trisomy 21) often have dental anomalies, including supernumerary teeth. Dental management in such cases requires special consideration due to the associated medical and developmental conditions.


Future Directions and Research

Ongoing research aims to unravel the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying the development of supernumerary teeth. Advances in genetic testing and molecular biology may eventually lead to predictive tools for identifying individuals at risk. Additionally, improved imaging techniques and minimally invasive surgical methods continue to enhance the management of this condition.



Supernumerary teeth present a unique challenge in dental practice, requiring a careful balance of observation, timely intervention, and multidisciplinary collaboration. Understanding the etiology, classification, and potential complications of these extra teeth is essential for effective management. With ongoing research and technological advancements, the future holds promise for more precise and less invasive treatment options, improving outcomes for patients with this intriguing dental anomaly.

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