Does An Extra Tooth Always Need To Be Extracted?

As you probably already know, an adult will develop 32 permanent teeth. The overall number might actually be less for individuals who don't develop all four wisdom teeth. But your own number might be slightly higher than this. If you have a supernumerary (extra) tooth, you're no doubt already aware of it. On the off chance that you hadn't noticed it, your dentist will have pointed it out during a routine examination. But why hasn't your dentist done anything about your extra tooth? It might be because no action has ever been warranted.

A Single Extra Tooth

A single supernumerary tooth may not be clinically significant. Multiple supernumerary teeth will require treatment (extraction followed by normalization of the configuration of the remaining teeth), but it might be that your dental arch can accommodate a single extra tooth without trouble. But now it's time for a disclaimer. Just because your single supernumerary tooth isn't causing any problems at this stage, it doesn't mean that this will always be the case.

Vertical Projection and Tooth Migration

Teeth should project vertically from the gums. A supernumerary tooth will typically do the same. However, its positioning may not be permanent. Its exposure to bite pressure may cause the tooth to migrate—taking on a subtly different angle to its neighbors. This can lead to a misalignment of your overall bite. Basic dental care can become difficult too, as the tooth's angle makes simple access (reaching its surfaces with your toothbrush) problematic. 

Other Symptoms

Should a previously benign supernumerary tooth become an issue, you may experience other symptoms. Its migration can create pressure on the tissues it's growing from (your gums), which can lead to the formation of a cyst. This pressure can lead to the tooth becoming uncomfortable, and more responsive to bite pressure.

Dental and Orthodontic Solutions

Don't assume that a benign supernumerary tooth will always stay that way. If you suspect that your extra tooth is no longer compatible with the rest of your teeth, contact your dentist. The tooth may need to be extracted, and you might require orthodontic treatment to realign your bite. This type of treatment is not complicated, however, extraction for a supernumerary tooth is only recommended when the tooth compromises your oral health. 

It's possible for a supernumerary tooth to never require treatment, but its presence in your dental arch should always be monitored, allowing action to be taken if it should ever be warranted.