The agenesis of maxillary lateral incisors is a common developmental anomaly and represents a clinical problem impairing dental esthetics and function from a very young age. Several dental specialties deal with the management of this clinical problem because a multidisciplinary approach can cover the complete dental needs of patients with dental agenesis. There is controversy, however, about whether missing lateral incisor spaces should be orthodontically opened or closed using permanent canines to replace the missing teeth. The article presents a review of the existing literature about the prevalence, etiology, diagnostic evaluation, and treatment strategy of maxillary lateral incisor agenesis. Also, this article aims to present the key determinants leading to selection of space opening or closure and to report professional judgments and layperson perception concerning the available treatment alternatives. The English-language literature associated with this topic was searched via PubMed. The articles retrieved were then reviewed with an attempt to fulfill the aims of this review. Maxillary lateral incisors are one of the most common congenitally missing teeth, and to date, the origin of their agenesis has not been completely identified. Prompt diagnosis and careful evaluation of treatment determinants through a multidisciplinary approach are essential for the proper management of clinical problems. Each of the available means of rehabilitation has its own advantages, disadvantages, indications, and limitations. The configuration of the treatment plan should be devoid of clinician biases, whereas patients’ realistic expectations should be taken into account. ORTHODONTICS (CHIC) 2011;12:296–317.
Key words: agenesis, aplasia, congenitally missing, developmental absence, maxillary lateral incisors