Managing congenitally missing lateral incisors. Part I: Canine substitution

J Esthet Restor Dent. 2005;17(1):5-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1708-8240.2005.tb00076.x.


Dentists often encounter patients with missing or malformed teeth. The maxillary lateral incisor is the second most common congenitally absent tooth. There are three treatment options that exist for replacing missing lateral incisors. They include canine substitution, a tooth-supported restoration, or a single-tooth implant. Selecting the appropriate option depends on the malocclusion, specific space requirements, tooth-size relationship, and size and shape of the canine. The ideal treatment is the most conservative option that satisfies individual esthetic and functional requirements. Often the ideal option is canine substitution. Although the orthodontist positions the canine in the most esthetic and functional location, the restorative dentist often needs to place a porcelain veneer or crown to re-create normal lateral incisor shape and color. This article closely examines patient selection and illustrates the importance of interdisciplinary treatment planning to achieve optimal esthetics. It is the first in a three-part series discussing the three treatment alternatives for replacing missing lateral incisors.

Clinical significance: Patients with congenitally missing lateral incisors often raise difficult treatment planning issues. Therefore, to produce the most predictable esthetic results, it is important to choose the treatment that will best address the initial diagnosis. This article is the first in a three-part series that describes the different treatments available for patients with congenitally missing lateral incisors. This first article focuses on canine substitution as a method of tooth replacement for these missing teeth. The general dentist will learn to evaluate specific patient selection criteria and determine whether canine substitution is an appropriate treatment alternative for replacing missing lateral incisors. The orthodontist will understand how to position the canines to satisfy functional requirements and achieve proper esthetics. Finally, the importance of interdisciplinary team treatment planning is emphasized as a requirement for achieving optimal final esthetics.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anodontia / therapy*
  • Child
  • Cuspid*
  • Esthetics, Dental
  • Gingivectomy
  • Humans
  • Incisor / abnormalities*
  • Malocclusion / therapy
  • Maxilla
  • Orthodontic Brackets
  • Patient Care Team
  • Patient Selection
  • Tooth Crown / anatomy & histology
  • Tooth Movement Techniques*