A baby’s first tooth is an important milestone in the development of the child and generally occurs around six to eight months of age. However, some babies may be born with teeth already; which are known as natal teeth. These may be a cause for anxiety for the family, though there is no real reason to fear and natal teeth can usually be managed without the need for extraction unless in specific cases. Read on to know more.
Natal teeth refers to the teeth that are present at birth and are alternatively also known as fetal teeth, congenital teeth, predeciduous teeth and precocious dentition. These teeth may either be small or regular in size and may be normal shaped or slightly conical; with a brownish yellow or opaque white color.
It is quite rare for babies to be born with teeth. It is estimated that 1 out of every 1000-3000 babies is born with teeth; although the chances of babies being born with teeth are higher than babies having neonatal teeth; which are teeth that grow inside the first month of birth. The chances of babies having natal teeth is thrice as high compared to a chance of developing neonatal teeth. Females in general have found to be more commonly affected than males.
Usually the occurrence of natal teeth is not connected to any medical condition. At times, however, the development of natal teeth may be attributed to Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, Hallermann- Streiff syndrome, Pierre Robin Syndrome, Soto Syndrome; babies born with cleft lip are also at higher probability of being born with natal teeth. An exact cause is yet unknown. It is believed the teeth develop in a position closer to the gums. Some other causative factors attributed to the development of natal teeth have been mentioned as infection, malnutrition, exposure of the mother to environmental toxins, trauma and the position of the tooth germ.
Most commonly, 85% of all natal teeth occur on the lower gum, in the center – known as incisors; with 11% of them being upper incisors and just 3% being lower canines and molars which are around the lower jawline farther inside the mouth. That number is just 1% for their upper counter parts.
Most cases of natal teeth may be classified into one of the following four types:
There is usually no need to worry or act unless the teeth interfere with feeding or could be a possible choking hazard,If the teeth appear weak and wobbly. Treatment is sought when symptoms such as a sore tongue or mouth are observed. it is advised to seek the advice of a pediatric dentist who prescribes treatment after thorough diagnosis, based on history, besides the physical examination of the baby. He may use the help of radiographic or x-rays to ascertain the need for removal. Utmost effort may be exercised to avoid unnecessary trauma to the area. Thereafter, periodic checkup is essential to avoid any complications and to ensure preventive dental care.
It is equally imperative that parent counselling takes place so as to create awareness in management of natal teeth and also to play down on any fears or myths parents may hold. Medical consultation and opinion, due and appropriate care, and timely treatment are sure ways of dealing with natal teeth, and corresponding queries and concerns.
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