Common Genetic Oral Abnormalities

Inherited oral abnormalities are the result of genetic mutations that occur during fetal development. An affected infant is not always diagnosed at birth, as some of these abnormalities are not immediately noticeable and may only become apparent as the child matures. In some cases, the visible effects of a genetic deformity are indicative of other underlying disorders and must be diagnosed by a qualified medical professional in a field specific to the condition.

Cleft Palate and Cleft Lip

Cleft palate and cleft lip are the two most common deformities of the craniofacial type. A cleft in the lip or palate occurs when the tissues of the affected area fail to develop fully while the fetus is in utero. Research shows that clefts tend to appear more frequently in children of Asian descent and in boys, but may occur in individuals of any ethnicity and gender.

Cleft lip generally affects only one side of the lips and can range from minor (involving a minute separation of the tissue) to more severe, when the cleft reaches entirely into the nostril. In more rare cases, clefts can occur on either side of the mouth and nose, exposing the gums and portions of the nasal cavity.

Cleft palate often results in feeding difficulties and should be surgically corrected as soon as is possible following birth. Cosmetic corrections are optional, but field experts suggest opting for some form of surgery when the child is young so as to promote effective healing and minimal scarring. A history of cleft palate or cleft lip in the family increases the chances that a child will be born with the deformity.

Anodontia, Hypodontia and Hyperdontia

Anodontia is an inherited oral condition that presents itself in the absence of all teeth, either primary or permanent. This genetic disorder is relatively rare and is typically not detected until the affected individual is of the age at which “baby” teeth are expected (between four and eight months). The majority of children who are affected by the disorder generally experience normal eruption of primary teeth, only to discover that permanent teeth fail to replace them. The most common occurrence of anodontia presents itself as a singular missing tooth, usually a permanent lateral incisor or another tooth near the front of the mouth.

Hypodontia typically affects males more than females and has been noted in children of all genetic backgrounds. This condition is responsible for the failed development of second bicuspids, maxillary lateral incisors and third molars. If left uncorrected, this condition may lead to severe malocclusion (bad bite) and other associated problems with bite and speech.

Hyperdontia is an oral condition in which an individual develops excess, or supernumerary, teeth. It can present itself in the eruption of one extra tooth or many, depending on the severity of the condition. In most cases, supernumerary teeth are removed in order to ensure proper growth and spacing of other teeth in the area.


More commonly referred to as a bad bite, malocclusion includes misalignment of the jaws or teeth in a way that may negatively impact speech, ability to chew and the physical appearance of the face as a whole. Generally an inherited condition, malocclusion can typically be corrected with specialized surgical procedures and/or orthodontic treatment. Early detection of all oral abnormalities and immediate intervention by a qualified maxillofacial surgeon are key factors in restoring the mouth of the patient to its most ideal state.


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