Naturally Missing Teeth and Cancer Risk

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A small number of people fail to develop one or more permanent teeth. This is known as dental agenesis. The teeth most commonly involved are the wisdom teeth, the top lateral incisors (between the front middle and canine “fang” teeth) and the lower bicuspids (between the back molars and canine “fang” teeth). A recent study from the Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Dentistry (Journal of Dental Research, Nov. 2012) reports an association between dental agenesis and an increased risk of a family history of cancer. For those naturally missing permanent teeth, there is no reason for alarm, but just understand this information may be useful in understanding overall cancer risk for the individual and family members.