One of the main aims of our blog is to propagate dental knowledge and genuinely teach people about their teeth and how to maintain them. Part of understanding this is knowing what some dental abnormalities are, one or two of which you or someone you love may be walking around with. Often when people hear terminology or jargon they are unfamiliar with they will opt to not ask their dental professional what it means. Although speaking up is not everyone’s go to move, it is important to clarify things you may not understand and ask questions you may have. For example, you may or may not have heard the term peg laterals in your life and wondered what on earth that meant. Today’s post aims to demystify some dental terminology for you and make you a peg lateral pro.
What are Peg Laterals?
Peg lateral or peg lateral incisors describe an oral health condition whereby the second tooth on both sides of the upper front teeth are visibly small and pointed, giving them the appearance of a peg. Such teeth are usually underdeveloped adult teeth although the term is commonly incorrectly used for baby or deciduous incisors that have failed to fall out. This occurs when the adult teeth that are to replace the lateral incisors fail to develop, leaving their deciduous counterpart to stick around longer than expected. Such cases are mistaken as peg laterals due to the size and shape difference of such teeth in contrast to the larger adult teeth surrounding them.
What Causes Peg Laterals?
Whether they are true peg laterals or simply baby teeth that were never replaced with adult teeth over time, both conditions are linked directly to genetics. What this means is that if your parents happen to have or have treated peg laterals in the past, your chances of incurring them are high. Peg laterals are actually a dominant genetic trait meaning that either one of your parents can have them for them to eventually be reflected in your smile. Failure of these teeth to fully develop or in some cases develop at all is what causes their diminutive appearance and leads to spacing between neighbouring teeth, thereby making them more pronounced.
What Treatment Options are Available?
Luckily, there are several options for dealing with peg laterals ranging from altering the appearance of the tooth to replacing it fully. The first thing to be determined is whether enough space exists between the front incisor and canine tooth o to accommodate a normal sized lateral incisor tooth. If there is not, orthodontic treatment by way of braces may be needed to create adequate space. Once this has been done a crown or veneer can be used to create the appearance of a normal looking tooth.
In the case of a peg lateral with a small and weak root or if it is a lingering baby tooth, the tooth itself may not offer enough support for a veneer or a crown. In such cases a retainer can be used to support the tooth so that it can support the options mentioned above. Your dental professional may determine that you are better off removing the existing peg lateral for the sake of your oral health. In such cases, a bridge can be used to fill the gap or as a more permanent means of treatment a full dental implant can be done. All of these treatments ranging from least invasive to most improve your oral health both in appearance and function.