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While there may be an occasional trick-or-treater with a passion for dentistry, skipping up to your doorbell dressed as a ghostly bicuspid– the most dentally oriented spooks you can reasonably expect to see on Halloween are probably vampires… maybe a werewolf or two. But did you know that there is a real ghostly phenomenon in dental science?

Real ghost… teeth

Regional odontodysplasia is very rare, but when it occurs it can seriously affect the appearance and function of teeth. Regional odontodysplasia is a developmental anomaly in which the elements that make up our teeth– enamel, dentin, and pulp– do not form as they should. It is usually first noticed with children’s deciduous teeth and once seen, usually affects permanent teeth as well.

What’s in a name?

The reason why regional odontodysplasia is called “ghost teeth” is that teeth have a “ghost-like” appearance on radiograph. And the reason for the “regional” part of its name is because this condition almost always occurs in a restricted area of tooth development– usually on one part of the mandibular or maxillary arch, and not crossing it. The term “dyspasia” refers to abnormal growth of cells, bone– or in this case, teeth.

Ghostly signs

Besides their “ghost-like” appearance, signs of regional odontodysplasia may include:

  • Small, and/or underdeveloped teeth
  • The tooth surface is pitted or grooved
  • Teeth are shaped abnormally
  • Yellow or brown discoloration
  • Failed or delayed tooth eruption

Remember, this condition is very rare

There are many theories as to what causes regional odontodysplasia– so many, actually, that one can get “medical student syndrome” (thinking you have the condition you’re studying) by simply reading all of them. Lack of adequate blood supply to the tooth or teeth during formation, local trauma, viral infection, or medications taken by the mother while the fetus was in utero are all suggested reasons. Scientists have learned that the condition is not hereditary– and again, this is a rare condition.

If for any reason you think that you or your child may be experiencing regional odontodysplasia, do schedule an appointment with Dr. Jade, your Redmond, OR dentist. Together, Dr. Jade and the team at Rimrock Dental have the skills, training, and experience to address this rare condition. 

Have a ghostly holiday!

At Rimrock Dental, we wish you a fun and safe Halloween– and hope you will forgive us for trying to cram some dental discovering into the mix. We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment at your local Redmond, OR dentist!

Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc