How to Spot Ankylosed Teeth and What to Do About This Condition

3 years ago
Betty M Russ

Ankylosed Teeth — Causes, Symptoms, and Possible Treatments

Ankylosed teeth are a condition that can result in various dental health problems. But, it is not as common as you’d think, and there are many ways to treat it if it happens. Here, we will go through everything you need to know about this disease, how you can approach the situation, and what your options for treating it are besides getting a dental implant

What Is Ankylosis? What Causes Ankylosed Teeth?

In short, ankylosis is a disease that causes a fusion between the cementum and alveolar bone. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, the alveolar bone is a part of the jaw that has sockets for teeth, and the cementum is bone-like tissue lining the root of the tooth. 

The primary issue with an ankylosed tooth is that it will begin sinking into the gum tissue. Since the tooth is fused with the bone, it will prevent the tooth from growing. 

Now, ankylosis is quite rare for deciduous teeth and even more for permanent teeth. If a deciduous tooth is affected, the permanent tooth won’t be able to fill its place since the ankylosed tooth will stick fast to the bone. 

This pathological fusion is usually caused by dental trauma. For example, after root resorption, it is possible that dentine or cementum will unite the tooth with the bone. But, it isn’t something that happens often. In fact, it is still unclear why this happens. We only know that it is more likely to happen with deciduous teeth. 

Many scientists believe that ankylosis is caused by genetic factors. However, inflammation, trauma, and infection can also be responsible for the condition. 

How Can You Spot Signs of Ankylosis?

There are a couple of ways you can spot signs of ankylosis. Firstly, a tooth fused to the bone usually suffers a loss of physiological mobility. You can see that on the x-ray. However, one of the main problems is that ankylosis is trickier to spot in the early stages. 

The signs of this condition will also vary. The symptoms usually depend on whether a person has permanent or primary teeth. Other factors that may contribute are sex, age, and location, but it is not something we can say with certainty since research is still lacking. 

Moreover, it is possible for a person with an ankylosed tooth to notice a lower number of teeth, enlarged lower jaw, and other similar abnormalities. But all of this is for deciduous teeth. The problem with permanent teeth is that they often don’t show any noticeable symptoms. However, as time goes by, it may happen that a person will have some type of asymmetry if the affected tooth is anterior. 

If the tooth is posterior, on the other hand, there is a high chance that neither the patient nor the doctor would be able to notice it. The reason for this is that the change in height is significantly slower compared to the anterior teeth. 

Keep in mind that an x-ray is still a valid way to determine whether someone has this condition. It will be noticeable even if a clinical examination doesn’t provide any results. Besides inflammation, trauma, or infection, family history is something that can show signs of risk as well. 

Is There a Treatment? What Are the Options?

While many people believe that the only option for treating ankylosis is to get dental implants, dentists are usually against extraction if there is a way to save the tooth. Needless to say, regular dental exams are the safest way to avoid worrying about this condition and make sure you spot any problems on time. 

There are a couple of ways to approach the problem if it does occur. If we are talking about a deciduous tooth, the most common solution is decoronation, that is, the removal of the crown. If this is not a viable option, the other solution is tooth removal. It bears mentioning that decoronation is an option for both permanent and milk teeth. If the patient is too young, however, the process might be postponed. 

For adult patients, there is a high chance that the height difference between the ankylosed tooth and the adjacent one is insignificant, which means that surgery is not necessary. In cases when there is a difference in height, one of the options is to build up a tooth crown. 

In addition, a doctor might opt for an orthodontic treatment known as osteotomy, a process of shortening or lengthening the bone (tooth in this case). The final option if osteotomy or tooth repositioning is not successful is to remove the tooth. 

Saying that one method is better than the other would be completely wrong since it is based on the specific situation. In some cases, however, the best option would be extraction, which might lead to a tooth implant as a replacement.

Is It Common to Have An Ankylosed Tooth?

Teeth ankylosis is a rare disease, and it is more common with primary teeth. In fact, it is ten times more likely to appear on deciduous teeth than on permanent teeth. According to IOSR, less than 200,000 people in the U.S. suffer from this disease.

It is also ten times more likely for the molars in the lower jaw to be affected by this condition, with the first primary molar being the most common tooth. All of this just shows that the condition is rare and that it isn’t something that many people will experience. 

The reassuring thing, of course, is that a simple dental x-ray can help you identify the problem. If necessary, your oral surgeon or implant dentist will offer you a couple of treatment options. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent ankylosis since the condition is not the result of bad oral hygiene. The only thing you can do is regularly visit your dentist to ensure that you can react on time and avoid having to worry about teeth implants if the problem occurs.

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