Peg-shaped teeth, or peg teeth, usually occur in the lateral incisors. These teeth are smaller than normal and tapered in shape. Aside from an unusual appearance and cosmetic considerations, the teeth themselves aren't cause for alarm. However, the presence of peg-shaped teeth might indicate an underlying disease or congenital defect that must be addressed.
Peg teeth can be caused by a number of conditions. One illness that can cause these unusually-shaped teeth is congenital syphilis. Congenital syphilis occurs when an infant contracts syphilis from his mother in utero. The syphilis can be treated with penicillin, but once the teeth have formed, their shape is set. A hereditary condition called ectodermal dysplasia can also cause teeth to be peg-shaped, as well as cause other abnormalities in the teeth, skin or hair, according to the PubMed Health website.
Peg teeth are often too small to be fully functional, but they typically don't cause problems with the bite or the alignment of the teeth. However, pits in the teeth may develop in which another tooth develops inside the peg tooth. This condition is known as "dens in dente," according to Vinay Kumar Srivastava, author of "Modern Pediatric Dentistry." For this reason, the dentist may wish to take x-rays of the teeth to ensure that there are no structural problems inside the teeth.
Dentists and orthodontists typically don't worry about the appearance of peg-shaped teeth. The shape of the teeth can't be fixed, but if the teeth are permanent, the dentist can take steps to minimize their appearance. One way to do this is to use braces or other orthodontic devices to shift the teeth around the peg-shaped teeth so that there are no gaps around the tooth. This will help to hide the unusual shape of the tooth. Alternatively, a cap can mask the tooth.
When to Consult a Dentist
Always consult a dentist if your child develops unusually-shaped teeth. A peg-shaped tooth or another malformed tooth may indicate that your child has a medical condition that should be addressed. If the peg-shaped tooth is a permanent tooth, see your dentist if it develops a cavity or other problem, or if you wish to explore options for improving the appearance of the tooth. Dentists well-versed in cosmetic dentistry can offer several options for fixing peg-shaped teeth.