What Causes Short Teeth?

Short or small teeth can be an issue as they can impact a patient’s confidence and cause issues with routine activities such as speaking and eating. In most cases, the issue is caused by wear and tear or genetics. It is important to work with a dentist to identify the cause of short teeth. This ensures the root concern is addressed and helps prevent further damage. Once the issue is identified, there are various treatments which can be used to restore the function and appearance of the teeth.


Microdontia or Genetic Causes

In some cases, the patient have teeth which are shorter and smaller than their other natural teeth. The impacted teeth may look more like baby or primary teeth due to their extremely small size. This condition is called microdontia and is usually genetic.


Three different types of microdontia exist. The first type is truly generalized microdontia. This results in all of the patient’s teeth being abnormally small. This condition is the rarest form and can be caused by dwarfism or Down’s syndrome. It is also found in children who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation during the development of the teeth. Relatively generalized microdontia occurs when the patient has normal teeth, but they appear smaller because the patient has a large jaw. Localized microdontia is the most common form and results in a single tooth being small. This condition often presents itself on an upper lateral incisor or third molar.


Wear and Tear

Patients may find that their teeth are initially a normal size and then slowly become shorter over time. This can happen due to erosive and abrasive wear which are explained in greater detail below.


Erosive wear often occurs when the teeth are continuously exposed to highly acidic substances. This type of exposure may be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic erosive tooth wear takes place when there is exposure to gastric acids over a long period of time. Patients often experience this who have gastroesophageal reflux disorder or GERD. GERD is a condition where the stomach acid comes up into the esophagus. In some cases, the gastric acid can reach the back area of the mouth and cause damage to the back teeth. Intrinsic erosive wear occurs when the patient excessively vomits from bulimia, alcoholism, or pregnancy. Extrinsic wear occurs when there are external factors which may include frequent consumption of soda.


If yellow begins to appear on the tops of teeth, this suggests that the dentin is exposed. The dentin is the innermost layer of the tooth. Because it is not as strong as the outer enamel, the dentin will wear more quickly and can be extremely sensitive. Patients with exposed dentist should follow up with their dentist right away.


Abrasive Wear

Abrasive wear occurs when there is physical pressure being placed on the teeth. One of the most common causes of abrasive wear is bruxism or grinding of the teeth. In many cases, bruxism occurs at night while the patient is sleeping and they are not even aware of the habit. Patients with misalignment issues or an uneven bite can also be exposed to uneven and accelerated wear of the teeth. The strong forces associated with chewing in these cases causes a great deal of wear on specific teeth and can result in the teeth being shorter in length.


Patients who have short or small teeth should follow up with their dentist to discuss their treatments options. The dentist will first want to ensure any underlying issues such as bruxism are properly treated. Common treatment options for short teeth include porcelain veneers, composite bonding, and dental crowns. The dentist will work with patients to ensure that they restore the appearance and function of the teeth.

How Do You Fix Short Teeth