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Causes of ankylosis

Ankylosis is a condition in which a tooth fuses to the bone, preventing normal tooth growth. This condition can happen to a primary or permanent tooth and can be caused by trauma or heredity.

In a child's mouth, the roots of a child's primary teeth naturally dissolve, which allows the permanent teeth to move into place. If the roots of a tooth don't dissolve properly, they can ankylose, or fuse, to the jawbone.

Fusing to the jawbone could happen if the periodontal membrane is compromised. This is a thin ligament that holds a tooth in place and forms a barrier between the tooth and the jawbone. If the ligament is gone, the roots and bone can grow together, cementing the tooth in place.

Ankylosis damages more than teeth

Ankylosis can cause problems including-

  • affecting the way your child chews, breathes and speaks,
  • delaying or stopping normal tooth growth,
  • changing the shape of your child's jaw,
  • causing an open bite and
  • causing the opposing tooth to extrude out of its socket.


We use three ways to diagnose ankylosis:

  • We first do a visual exam because an ankylosed tooth may appear shorter than neighboring teeth.
  • We will lightly tap on your child's tooth because an ankylosed tooth sounds different than a normal tooth.
  • We will take X-rays to monitor the development of permanent teeth blocked by the primary tooth's roots.

Treatment options

To treat ankylosis we may take a "wait and see" approach with very young children. Later, we could recommend removing the tooth, and we may need to send you to a specialist to perform the procedure. Once the tooth is removed, your child might need to wear a space maintainer to give the permanent tooth the proper space in which to grow.

Addressing ankylosis early can help prevent future problems and help your child's teeth grow in straight and strong.

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