What can your dentist tell you about your risk for ovarian cancer?

Answer: more than I thought.

The absolute rates aren’t small either…20% of women with epithelial ovarian cancer have hypodontia, as opposed to 3% of women overall.  Women are 4 times as likely to have hypodontia as men.
I bring this up because I think it’s an interesting clear case of correlation without causation.  Missing teeth don’t cause ovarian cancer, and ovarian cancer doesn’t cause missing teeth.  It’s also an interesting case of how research has to move in two directions.  Now that there’s proof that ovarian cancer patients tend to have hypodontia, there are trials underway to see if women with hypodontia get ovarian cancer, and if so how high the rate is.  A correlation also does not mean prediction.  Prediction means prediction.
If you’re wondering why this came up, it’s because I have hypodontia, and I’d never really thought to look it up until now*.  Apparently it’s a half decent idea for me to let my primary care doctor know about this, as there are very few early signs of ovarian cancer.  Science….it never fails to surprise me.**
*Sometimes I forget we have the internet.  Not really, but sometimes there are questions I had pre-internet that it never occurs to me I can get answers to now.  I found out about the teeth thing when my teeth failed to develop, back in around 1993 or so.

**In case you’re really curious about my dentistry: I’m congenitally missing 8 teeth total, but 4 of them are my wisdom teeth. To be clear, these were not pulled, they never existed.  Wisdom teeth (third molars) don’t count in the diagnosing of hypodontia.  I’m completely missing my mandibular second molars, and I only have baby teeth for my mandibular second bicuspid (second premolar).  None of this is visible unless you’re seriously looking in my mouth, but dentists do generally go “oh cool!” when they see my mouth for the first time.  The teeth I’m missing are all the most common ones, though 4 is on the high side to be missing (all the people in the study were only missing one or two).  I also had a tooth try to grow in on the roof of my mouth, but that’s a whole different story.

27 thoughts on “What can your dentist tell you about your risk for ovarian cancer?

  1. I also have hypodontia. However, you've got me beat on the number of teeth–I'm missing only one, and still have the baby tooth in place since the adult tooth never came in to push it out. Also like you, I had tooth grow in on the roof of my mouth when I was young.

    I'm male, so I'm guessing my risk of ovarian cancer remains low, but now I'm wondering what other health correlations with hypodontia are out there and apply to men!


  2. Interesting!

    Now I know this is all on one gene, it makes me feel an odd sense of kinship with anyone else who has it.

    Anyway, I agree your risk of ovarian cancer is probably low ;), but there did seem to be some suggestion of a link to colon cancer.


  3. I am glad to have stumbled upon your blog! Found it while I was “googling” things in regards to dental implants.

    I have hypodontia as well as other females on my mothers side of my family. (Many of us are congenitally missing both upper lateral incisors) And ovarian cancer has been common on my father's side of my family. So this has been very interesting for me to read.

    Thanks for the info!
    – Natalie


  4. I too have hypodontia fo that i consult a doctor in vancouver from that i got further treatments for hypodontia and more awareness about dental whitening which is Dental whitening is a common procedure in general dentistry. There are many popular natural ways to whiten one's teeth. Some natural teeth whitening methods can be very gentle on the teeth, while others can lead to enamel damage. One efficient type of natural teeth bleaching is through the use of malic acid and most of dental whitening Lightness should last from one to five years, depending on your personal habits such as smoking and drinking coffee and tea. At this point you may choose to get a touch up. A touchup is generally not very expensive as one can use the original mouth guard and it may take only 1 or 2 sessions at home.


  5. Thanks for this article! I, too, am missing 4 teeth. Funny, growing up I knew that I was missing them but I just thought I'd have the baby teeth forever- no dentist ever told me otherwise. When I turned 17 though they really started acting up (and the dentist was like “what, you thought you'd have them forever?”) and by 22, two of them had to be pulled. And DAMN, implants are expensive too! Thanks, genetics!


  6. At 68, I still have a baby tooth, although it doesn't seem as if it's going to be around much longer.

    And I just discovered this correlation for myself… no dentist had ever mentioned it. Of course, correlation does not equal causation, but it still concerns me some.


  7. I am 27 yr old female missing 6 permanent teeth! I still have 1 baby tooth but its been achy lately, thus causing me to google & learn more about my hypodontia! I will definitely have to ask my OBGYN about this correlation next time I go in! Thanks for sharing!


  8. My friend have this hypodontia problem, he had 3 missing from middle.It looks so wierd to see.So Its better to do dental implant so that you will be able to smile in front of everyone.Also if anyone have problem with its gum , they should try the pinhole gum surgical technique for relief.


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