Dental Health Info Article

Missing Teeth Linked to Ovarian Cancer:

Losing baby teeth is a rite of passage that primarily affects individuals during childhood, starting at age six. However, not everyone experiences that process such as those diagnosed with hypodontia. The condition is marked by a smile filled with missing teeth caused by stunted development of permanent teeth. Women with the predicament not only experience dental problems, but research has also indicated that the condition is also a marker indicate a greater risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC).


There are numerous reasons why adults may be missing teeth such as trauma, dental neglect and poor nutrition. But when a patient is missing six teeth or less (excluding the 3rd molars), odds tilt towards a case of hypodontia. Although it is unclear why the condition may occur, it has been associated with genetic, hormonal, infections or environmental factors during the stages of dental development and will prevent adult teeth from growing into the mouths of otherwise health adults despite the natural loss of baby teeth.

Emily Cheeseman Tunbridge Wells in Kent England, is one such woman with the condition. Her tale made headlines in 2010 as after 28 years she finally lost her last remaining baby tooth with the help of her dentist. Until Cheeseman was 22, she sported four baby teeth front and center of her smile. Although she aged, her teeth never did and in her early 20s Cheeseman had experienced tooth chipping that required her small teeth to be filed down further.

After years of dealing with her grin and the dental problems associated with it, she underwent extensive dental work. The procedure started with four tooth extractions from a professional dentist. Then, her gums were prepped to handle the stress of dental implants. In 2002 two implant screws complete with dental crowns were placed into her jawbone. Cheeseman also wore Invisalign braces designed to open space in order to accommodate the faux adult teeth that were to be added to her smile. Once her teeth shifted and her new permanent teeth affixed, the look was topped off with tooth whitening to deliver the best smile possible (

The Hypodontia/Cancer Connection

Emily's smile makeover was enough to help her evolve from shrinking violet to the life of the party. Despite the new sense of confidence she has reached, she is cautioned to seek regular screenings for ovarian cancer as hypodontia is considered to be a marker for the condition.

Research conducted by the University of Kentucky (Lexington) and published in the Journal of the American Dental Association (February, 2008, 139 (2): 163–9) unearthed the connection. The research suggests that EOC patients are more than eight times as likely to have hypodontia than women not inflicted with the disease.

Dental Woes of Women

Despite how rare hypodontia is, women need to be especially cautious if they note problems in their tooth development because of the cancer connection. Unfortunately, that affliction is not the only dental woes that women may subjected to over time.

The fairer sex is also at risk for developing Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, (TMJ). That problem is a "...complex condition that affects the joint connecting your lower jaw to your skull," (1-800-DENTIST). Once those connections become compromised because of trauma, bruxism, arthritis or teeth clenching the pain can make it difficult to chew, can cause neck and headaches and other discomfort. Of all TMJ sufferers, 90 percent are women. Additional dental problems associated with women include burning mouth syndrome and pregnancy gingivitis.

It is important to note that both genders are at risk for a myriad of dental problems if oral hygiene and regular dental visits are neglected. Dental care starts at home with daily brushing and flossing and eating a healthy diet. The process can only be completed with undergoing dental exams and dental cleanings at least twice annually or more if recommended by a dentist. Individuals looking to find a dentist to help minimize any potential dental problems can count on 1-800-DENTIST to connect them with a great dentist in their area.