It's time for a Latin test. What's the English translation of the Latin word for twins? If you need a clue, think about the different star signs. That's right—the answer is Gemini. This means you can probably work out the definition of geminated teeth, a dental condition that primarily affects primary (baby) teeth, although it can occasionally be seen in permanent (adult) teeth. But what's the harm when one (or more) of your child's teeth has a twin?
The Tooth Bud
Tooth formation starts in the tooth bud. This is a collection of cells that will develop into the tooth crown (composed of enamel and dentin), along with the internal pulp chamber (the nerve inside the tooth), and the tooth's root structure. Geminated teeth occur when a bud forms into two crowns (often with two internal pulp chambers), but generally with a single tooth root. It's essentially a double tooth, anchored with a single root. How are geminated teeth diagnosed?
Identifying a Geminated Tooth
Geminated teeth are generally identified during a regular checkup at your family dentistry services provider. The tooth can look abnormally large, or it can feature a cleft-like groove, making it appear to be two different teeth. It's quite easy for a dentist to identify, although an x-ray will be necessary to look at the geminated tooth's internal structure. This x-ray is used to determine whether the tooth has two separate pulp chambers, which influences the best treatment.
Sometimes the best treatment is to do nothing. If the geminated tooth's size and formation will not cause overcrowding (which can hamper the development of your child's other teeth) or will not make the tooth more susceptible to decay (generally because the awkward size of the tooth makes cleaning it difficult), then the tooth will often be left alone. This is especially true when the tooth is due to be shed and replaced with two adult teeth. But what about when the geminated tooth is actually causing problems?
A geminated tooth can be extracted. The early loss of a primary tooth is not without potential problems, and this can be that the absence of the tooth causes the teeth on either side of the gap to tilt into the space, which can impede the natural development of the subsequent adult teeth. In these cases, a dental space maintainer can be required. This a loop of wire or rigid acrylic that surrounds the gap, and simply prevents the neighboring teeth from shifting position.
Geminated teeth are an irregularity, but it's not a foregone conclusion that they're a problematic irregularity. They can often be left alone, but extraction can solve any problems that the geminated tooth may cause.
Reach out to a local family dentistry service to learn more.