Physical appearance is one of the most obvious complications of macrodontia but something less apparent is what happens inside the face and jaw of people who have uneven teeth. When one or more teeth are outsized (or undersized as in the case of microdontia, where smaller than normal teeth develop), a person's bite may be uneven, leading to jaw and joint disorders, as well as pain in the face and skull area. These maxillofacial concerns can cause mild, acute pain or long-term, extreme pain and should be treated. Chewing also can be less effective depending on the location of the oversized tooth, or macrodont, which can lead to digestive problems if food is not properly or completely broken down before swallowing. Always consult with a dental professional or pediatrician if macrodontia is developing as a child grows or is suspected.
Differences in size and rough surfaces sometimes found in those with macrodontia also can lead to problems with effective cleaning and cavities. Gum care in these instances is especially important in order to prevent pockets where teeth and gums aren't matching up with adjacent teeth.
Scaling back the tooth size or extracting the tooth are options for treating or correcting macrodontia. Reducing teeth size -- or stripping -- can be done to some extent but sometimes only minimally. Replacing the natural tooth with a prosthesis or artificial tooth -- or teeth in the case of multiple macrodonts -- allows for very even matching with the normal-sized natural teeth [source: Cameron and Widmer].
In some cases, macrodontia will not cause pain or interfere with chewing or hygiene, and it may not even be very apparent depending on the location of the outsized tooth. And, even when prominent, sometimes the peculiarity adds to the singularity and attractiveness of a person's smile, especially in a loved one.
More information on teeth of all shapes and sizes follows.
- Cameron, Angus and Widmer, Richard. "Handbook of Pediatric Dentistry, Second Edition." Elsevier Limited. 2003.
- Chussid, Steven. "Abnormalities of the Teeth." Columbia.edu. 2011. (Nov. 23, 2011) http://www.columbia.edu/itc/hs/dental/d7710/client_edit/dental_anomalies.pdf
- Langland, Olaf, E., et al. "Principles of Dental Imaging." Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. 2002.
- Maegawa, G.H.B., et al. "Clinical Variability in KBG Syndrome: Report of Three Unrelated Families." American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A, Wiley.com. Sept. 21, 2004. (Nov. 25, 2011) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajmg.a.30293/full
- National Institutes of Health (NIH). "Bilateral Macrodontia of Mandibular Second Premolars: A Case Report." NIH.gov. Jan. 2001. (Nov. 18, 2011) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11309876
- Rajendran, R. and Sivapathasundharam B., eds. "Shafer's Textbook of Oral Pathology, Sixth Edition." Elsevier. 2009.
- Wilford, John Noble. "Human Teeth, Small Already, Keep on Shrinking." NYTimes.com. Aug. 30, 1988. (Nov. 5, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/30/science/human-teeth-small-already-keep-on-shrinking.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
- Yang, Cindy. "Case Based Pediatrics for Medical Students and Residents: Pediatric Dental Basics." University of Hawaii, Hawaii.edu. March 2003. (Nov. 24, 2011) http://www.hawaii.edu/medicine/pediatrics/pedtext/s01c12.html