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Natal Teeth – 7 Things to Know if your Baby is Born with Teeth

Ten little fingers. Ten little toes. And two toothy pegs?

Yes, sometimes newborns can be born with teeth, or what are known as natal teeth. This can be quite shocking and, while it is also unusual, it does happen. Here’s what to know about natal teeth including risk factors, complications, and treatments.

What are natal teeth?

Natal teeth are any teeth that are present when your bub is born. Neonatal teeth, on the other hand, are teeth that emerge within the first 30 days after birth. Natal teeth are rarely seen in premature babies.

Babies are typically born with about 20 baby or milk teeth, just below the gums. They normally erupt at approximately 6 months of age, but they can be seen as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months.

teething chart

Natal teeth are usually small, pointed, and yellowish-brown, although some can appear normal in size, shape, and colour.

Are they just milk teeth? 

90% of the time, yes. Natal teeth are just milk teeth that have erupted extra early. However, in 10% of cases, they are actually extra teeth in your child’s mouth.

Most (75-85%) natal teeth are present as a pair in the middle of the lower gum (the central primary incisors). Maxillary incisors are present at a rate of about 11%, mandibular canines and molars at 3%, and maxillary canines and molars at 1%.

How common are natal teeth?

Very uncommon! Natal teeth occur at a rate of about 1:2,000 to 1:6,000 live births.

This means that for every 2,000 babies born, 1 may be born with teeth.

MAGICAL MUM MIXER BIG W
Source: Bigstock

Types of natal teeth

Although at first sight, it may seem like your tot has a fully formed tooth or two, it is not always so clear cut. Therefore, it is important to determine the type of teeth they are born with as soon as possible.

Most natal teeth fall into four different clinical categories:

  • Fully developed, but loose teeth. The crowns are attached with a few root structures.
  • Loose teeth with no roots.
  • Small teeth just emerging from the gums.
  • Swelling of the gum, with tooth about to erupt through the gums.

What causes natal teeth?

Genetics: It is estimated that 60% of natal teeth cases are connected to family history.

Conditions: However, certain conditions can increase the incidence of natal teeth. Such syndromes include:

  • Sotos
  • Pierre Robin
  • Ellis-Van Creveld
  • Jackson-Lawler
  • Steatocystoma Multiplex with Natal Teeth
  • Hallerman-Streiff

Although single cases do occur with other syndromes, they don’t illustrate a genuine characteristic of the condition. Additionally, approximately 10% of tots with cleft lip/palate also have natal teeth.

teething tips
Source: Bigstock

Maternal risk factors: There are certain factors associated with mums that can increase the risk of natal teeth in their little ones:

  • Infection and fevers during pregnancy.
  • Malnutrition where there is a vitamin deficiency.
  • Trauma to mum and/or bub.

My baby was born with teeth – is this dangerous? 

There are a few concerns with natal teeth. Breastfeeding, for example, can be a little more painful for mum but natal teeth can also be painful for your newborn.

Complications to your infant can vary as follows:

  • Your little one may face feeding challenges due to gum/tooth pain and may even refuse to feed. This can result in dehydration and malnutrition, which can lead to low weight and small size, making it difficult for them to thrive.
  • Damage to the tip or underside of their tongue as they rub it on their teeth, known as Riga-Fede disease, which can result in an ulcer 6-10% of the time.
  • Chocking due to swallowed or inhaled teeth as loose teeth detach.
  • With little to no enamel, your little one can suffer from dental caries.

How to treat natal teeth

If you do notice a toothy peg in your newborn’s mouth, you should let your doctor know. You may be referred to a paediatric dentist to conduct x-rays and determine what the plan of action is.

This will depend on a few things such as:

  • The teeth are milk teeth or extras.
  • The extent of root structures.
  • The teeth have any enamel and dentin (the layer before reaching the dental pulp cavity).
  • Each tooth’s relationship to other teeth.

There are two types of treatments:

Removing the natal tooth: Usually, tooth extraction is conducted if your little one’s natal tooth is an extra one, is relatively loose, or is associated with a cleft palate, as it can interfere with treatment.

The procedure typically involves a topical anesthetic cream since there usually is poor root development associated with natal teeth.

This treatment, however, does require a Vitamin K injection before the tooth is removed when bub is less than 10 days old. This is because, at 10 days of age, infants do not have the microbial population necessary to produce sufficient Vitamin K, which is one of several clotting factors. Without Vitamin K, your little one is at risk of a hemorrhage during tooth extraction.

Keeping the tooth: This tends to be the case if the tooth is a milk tooth. Doctors may grind or smooth out the sharp edges of the tooth or place resin to form a dome over the edge of the tooth. This prevents the tooth from causing any pain or rubbing. They may also suggest a topical fluoride application as dental hygiene to avoid caries and other issues.

While finding a tooth (or two) in your newborn’s mouth can be a bit alarming, try not to worry! Your doctor will be able to determine the best plan of action for your bub and their rare toothy peg.

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