As a parent seeing your baby’s first teeth erupt is a happy yet exhausting experience (with all the drooling, coughing irritation). But very few people know that some babies are already born with one or more teeth in their cute little jaws. These are known as natal teeth. So, should you be worried if your baby’s born with teeth?
There’s nothing to be anxious about unless the teeth interfere with feeding or cause choking. Pediatric dentists at Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics can examine your infant and advise appropriate treatment.
Newborn With Teeth
Babies develop teeth during the first year of their life. Most infants have their first tooth between the ages of 4-7. The very first teeth to erupt are the ones in front of the lower jaw, called central incisors. Natal teeth rarely erupt, approximately in 1 out of every 2,000 babies born.
What are Neonatal Teeth?
While a natal tooth is visible at the time of birth, a neonatal tooth appears during the first month of a baby’s life. Both teeth can cause the same problems and are often studied together.
How Do Natal Teeth Look Like?
- They have a smaller size when compared to normal primary(milk) teeth.
- Have certain issues with their enamel, such as:
- Hypoplasia: thin or absent enamel
- Hypomineralization: soft or discolored enamel
- Hypomaturation: yellow or brown enamel with sensitivity
- Don’t have fully developed roots and are slightly mobile.
Are Natal Teeth Milk Teeth?
Most of the natal teeth are milk teeth that come in before time, but some of them are not.
A fully grown set of primary teeth have 20 teeth in total, but some children erupt more than that. And these additional teeth are called supernumerary teeth and can cause crowding problems. Dental X-rays can help determine if a natal tooth is supernumerary.
Causes of Natal Teeth
Natal teeth can surprise you, but there are some conditions that can increase the chance of infants being born with teeth. Babies with cleft lip or palate are more likely to develop natal teeth. Newborns having problems with dentin may also have teeth at the time of birth.
Other syndromes or conditions that may cause a baby to be born with teeth are:
- Hallerman-Streiff syndrome
- Ellis-Van Creveld
- Pierre Robin
Cleft palate or lip may be the most common birth defects linked to natal teeth, and babies with these conditions have a higher chance of developing teeth at the time of birth. According to a study, nearly 30% of babies with bilateral cleft lip and palate and 5% with unilateral cleft lip and palate were born with natal or neonatal teeth.
To learn what may have caused your baby to have natal teeth, we suggest you visit the Rodeo Dental office located nearest to you.
Risk Factors for Natal Teeth
- Other than certain medical issues, certain risk factors can add to a baby’s likelihood of being born with teeth. A study shows that around 15% of babies that have teeth at the time of birth have close family members, including parents and siblings that had natal teeth at the time of infancy.
- More studies need to be done on the connection between gender and natal teeth, but so far, baby girls have a higher chance of being born with natal teeth than males.
- Malnutrition during the development of a child is another possible risk factor.
Types of Natal Teeth
Did you know there are 4 different types of teeth that babies can have when they are born? Your pediatric dentist at Rodeo can help find out what type your newborn has.
- Fully developed but slightly loose teeth fixed to a few root structures.
- Loose Teeth with no roots at all
- Tiny teeth erupting above the gums.
- Teeth that haven’t yet cut through the gums but are really close to
Most infants have only one tooth in their mouth when they are born, but it’s also possible to have multiple teeth, but it’s extremely rare. Most commonly, the bottom front teeth appear, but a baby can also have upper teeth and molars (appear in <1% of newborns with natal teeth).
Problems Caused By Natal Teeth
Choking or Swallowing Loose Teeth: Natal teeth with very weak or no roots move too much and can fall out easily, presenting a choking hazard. Though the chances of a baby inhaling a natal tooth are rare, if done, it can cause serious respiratory issues and obstruct the airway. Therefore, the complications linked to aspiration should be noted.
Feeding Issues: During breastfeeding, natal teeth can cause pain for the baby and/or the mother. In some cases, babies develop a tongue ulcer called traumatic lingual ulceration or Riga-Fede disease. The problem usually occurs in the lower front natal teeth. Due to its sharp shape, the back-and-forth movement of the tongue can cause a sore to form on the bottom side of the tongue. The Riga-Fede disease develops an open ulcer that forms a fibrous bump on the tongue, making breastfeeding discomforting for the affected babies.
Cavities: A natal tooth with enamel hypomineralization or hypoplasia is more likely to develop cavities than one with no enamel issues.
Crowding: In case your baby’s born with a supernumerary natal tooth, it can create issues for the erupting teeth that will follow. For instance, supernumerary teeth can lead to crowding problems and can cause permanent teeth to erupt in the wrong position or force them not to come in at all.
The Need For Removing Natal Teeth
If your baby’s born with supernumerary natal teeth, it’s better to have them removed. A pediatric dentist can examine a problematic tooth and advise the right time for extraction. However, if the tooth your baby’s born with is one of the milk teeth, saving the tooth is best.
Primary teeth are very important for your child, helping them to chew food, speak correctly and create space for permanent teeth to erupt properly. When a permanent tooth is missing, it can be replaced with dental implants, but it doesn’t happen in the case of a missing primary tooth, as it can prevent permanent teeth from coming in.
If the natal teeth are removed, which is a part of normal teeth development, your baby will live without that tooth until the permanent erupts (usually between the ages of 6-12, depending on the tooth’s location).
Grinding down the sharp edges is a way to manage feeding problems caused by pointy natal teeth. Another way is to apply a filling material (composite resin) on the tooth to make it less spiked. Flattening the sharp edges by these methods can help prevent injury to the tongue and allow the sores related to Riga-Fede disease to get better.
However, if the smoothing of the edges of the natal tooth is not enough to eradicate the difficulty in feeding, it is best to remove it. Natal teeth that move too much should be removed to eliminate the chances of accidental swallowing.
Pediatric dentists at Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics can carry out the extraction of natal teeth and later remove the tooth socket’s soft lining to halt the further development of the root.
Managing Natal Teeth
If your baby’s born with teeth are they’re not removed, you’ll have to monitor and take special care of them. Natal teeth having issues with their enamel have higher chances of developing cavities. Your child’s dentist can educate you on how to clean them properly and monitor them for any possible symptoms of decay.
Board-Certified Pediatric Dentists
If a baby’s born with natal teeth or grows teeth a few months after the birth, consult your dentist as soon as possible. Our pediatric dentists can handle issues related to natal teeth. Call us today to schedule an appointment to learn about any advisable treatment and how to take care of your child’s first natal teeth.
Our dental offices are at multiple locations, so you can easily visit the nearest one.