Researchers at the West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia have recently discovered a gender disparity among young dental patients. According to their research, female children were more likely to have at least one tooth missing than their male peers. The study was recently published in the April 2019 edition of the Journal of Dental Hygiene under the title, “Hypodontia, Oligodontia and Anodontia in West Virginia Appalachia.”
A Closer Look at Hypodontia, Oligodontia, and Anodontia
According to the American Dental Association, hypodontia is the absence of one or more teeth (other than their third molars) that can affect a patient’s primary and permanent dentition. People who have lost six or more teeth are usually diagnosed with severe hypodontia, while anodontia is a condition that refers to the complete absence of every permanent tooth. Oligodontia is a rare dental disorder where the patient has lost six or more teeth in their primary and/or permanent dentitions.
Dental professionals may begin to notice these types of disorders early on with the help of an oral exam and radiographs. A quick panoramic radiograph can reveal alveolar bone hypotrophy, delayed teeth eruptions, and other signs that the patient may have hypodontia, oligodontia, or anodontia. Although it may be difficult for patients to manage at first, experienced dentists and hygienists can make it easier for them to manage their oral health with the proper treatment.
The Common Causes of Hypodontia, Oligodontia, and Anodontia
There are many genetic and environmental factors that can lead to hypodontia, oligodontia, and anodontia. For example, common environmental factors include radiation therapy, severe bacterial infections, and toxic chemicals. Pregnant women who are exposed to thalidomide may also increase their chances of delivering a child that may experience hypodontia. Some patients have a genetic defect that prevents them from developing all of their permanent teeth.
About the West Virginia University Study
The researcher’s study, “Hypodontia, Oligodontia and Anodontia in West Virginia Appalachia,” was conducted at the School of Dentistry at West Virginia University. The lead investigator, R. Constance Wiener, MA, DMD, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Dental Practice and Rural Health at the university. Christopher Waters, who works in the Department of Dental Research, also helped organize the study.
Weiner and Waters wanted to find out why children in the Appalachian Mountains were more likely to have missing permanent teeth when compared to children in other American cities. By the end of the study, they wanted to understand further why it was so prevalent and compare data between the two genders.
For the study, they looked at the panoramic radiographs of 500 children who were between the ages of 6 and 11 years old to see if they were missing teeth. Weiner and Waters also used multiple data analysis tools including logistic regression and Chi-square analysis. Sixty children (or 12.0% of the participants) were missing at least one permanent tooth. An estimated 15.5% of females and 8.8% of males had at least one missing permanent tooth. As a result of their study, Weiner and Waters concluded that female children were more likely to have at least one missing permanent tooth than their male peers.
Based on these findings, it is important that dental hygienists and other dental professionals recognize and treat patients who are displaying signs of hypodontia, oligodontia, and anodontia as soon as possible. Children and other patients can manage their dental disorders with the right dental care and possible dental implants, orthodontics, and prosthetics. They should also make it a point to visit their dentist to monitor their oral health regularly.