Usually when a child loses a baby tooth, an adult tooth is about to come in. Either you already see the adult tooth poking out of the gums, or it eases its way down and through the gums within a week or two. So, what happens when your child loses a baby tooth, but no adult tooth comes in its place? It might be that you’ll just have to wait a little longer – or your child may have hypondontia, a condition in which one or several of the adult teeth are missing.

How do you know if your child has hypodontia?

Keep in mind that not all adult teeth come in immediately after a child looses the baby tooth. If it has only been a few weeks, don’t panic. There may still be a tooth up there waiting to pop through the gums. If your child wiggles his or her loose teeth to get them to pop out prematurely, you can count on waiting a little longer for those adult teeth to appear. If there’s no sign of an adult tooth after about 6 weeks, then you should call your dentist.

Your dentist can x-ray your child’s jaw to make sure there are adult teeth present. If your child does have hypondontia, these x-rays will tell your dentist how many teeth are missing, and which ones.

What causes hypondontia, and can you prevent it?

If your child is missing one or more teeth, it’s important to realize that nothing you did as a parent caused this to occur. Hypondontia is almost always a genetic condition, which means that your child was born without those teeth. You didn’t cause hypodontia by feeding your child the wrong foods or by not reminding your child to brush his or her teeth.

How is hypondontia treated?

The good news is that there are several very effective, simple treatments for hypodontia. Your dentist will recommend the options that he or she thinks are best for your child. When only one or two teeth are missing, which is true in most cases of hypodontia, an orthodontist may simply be able to use braces to push the other teeth into the spaces left by the missing tooth. When this is not an option, either because several teeth are missing or because the location of the teeth does not allow for it, dental implants are generally used to replace the missing teeth.

Dental implants are not as scary as they sound. Contrary to popular belief, they do not come from cadavers, and they are not dangerous to have applied. They are made from titanium rods, which are inserted directly into the jaw bone and topped with ceramic crowns that look and function like real teeth. Dental implants must be applied surgically, but once your child is healed, they will last for the rest of his or her life. New procedures have even been developed to allow the root and crown parts of the dental implants to be applied in one appointment, rather than in two.

What if your child is unable to undergo surgery?

Dental implants are the preferred method of treatment for missing teeth because they prevent the roots of other teeth from shifting into the empty space left by the missing teeth. However, if your child cannot undergo surgery for health reasons, there are other treatment options.

Some patients with hypondontia have bridges designed to replace their missing teeth. A bridge attaches to the nearby teeth, replacing only the crown, but not the root of the missing tooth. Bridges are applied when a patient is awake; no surgery is required. In some cases, patients with a missing tooth or teeth may simply wear a retainer with false teeth attached to it. This helps keep the other teeth from shifting and allows the patient to have a normal smile.

If your child seems to be missing an adult tooth, it’s important not to panic. Hypondontia is fairly common, and your dentist or a site like can recommend a treatment that ensures your child’s teeth are functional and appear normal.