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When it comes to babies, most people expect to see a toothless grin, but sometimes babies are born with teeth or get them very early in life. This can shock parents and caregivers who might worry that the baby’s teeth pose a choking hazard or are abnormal in some way.
Having teeth at birth or getting them early is actually quite rare, occurring in only 1 out of every 2,000 to 3,000 births. However, it is not a cause for alarm in most cases and is generally not a sign of any underlying health problems.
Although it can be unsettling to see a small, toothy grin on a newborn’s face, parents should not be overly concerned. In most cases, these ‘natal teeth’ are harmless and simply need to be monitored. However, parents should consult with their pediatrician or a pediatric dentist to determine if any intervention is needed.
The Science Behind Baby Teeth
What are Baby Teeth?
Baby teeth, also known as primary or deciduous teeth, are the first set of teeth that babies develop. These teeth typically begin to emerge around six months of age and continue to come through until around the age of two or three years old. The primary teeth are eventually replaced by adult teeth, which typically start to emerge around the age of six years old.
There are twenty primary teeth, ten in the upper jaw and ten in the lower jaw. These teeth play a crucial role in the development of a baby’s speech, chewing ability, and the alignment of their adult teeth.
The Science Behind Baby Teeth
The development of baby teeth is a complex process that involves the interaction of several different genetic and environmental factors. A baby’s teeth begin to develop in the womb, with tooth buds forming in the gums. These buds eventually grow into teeth and push through the gums to emerge into the mouth.
Scientists have identified numerous genes that are involved in tooth development, with mutations in these genes linked to a range of dental disorders. Environmental factors such as the mother’s diet and exposure to toxins during pregnancy can also impact the development of a baby’s teeth.
Caring for Baby Teeth
Caring for baby teeth is essential to ensure healthy tooth development and prevent dental problems later in life. This includes regularly cleaning the teeth and gums, limiting sugary and acidic foods and drinks, and scheduling regular dental check-ups with a pediatric dentist.
Parents and caregivers can help to keep baby teeth healthy by establishing good oral hygiene habits early on and teaching children how to brush and floss correctly. Additionally, the use of fluoride toothpaste and fluoride treatments can help to strengthen the teeth and prevent decay.
With proper care, baby teeth can play a crucial role in the healthy development of a child’s smile and overall oral health.
What Causes Teeth to Erupt Early?
Nutrition and Genetics
A baby’s nutrition and genetic factors can play a role in the timing of tooth eruption. If a baby is getting enough calcium and vitamin D, it can help their teeth develop properly and erupt on time. Genetics can also have an impact on tooth development, with some babies being born with fully developed teeth or having teeth that erupt earlier than expected.
Certain medical conditions can cause teeth to erupt early. For example, infants with hyperthyroidism may experience accelerated tooth eruption, as thyroid hormones can stimulate dental development. Other medical conditions that can result in early tooth eruption include Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, Cherubism, and Gardner syndrome.
Miswiring of Nerves
Sometimes, the nerves that control tooth eruption can misfire, causing teeth to emerge earlier than expected. This is known as familial gigantiform cementoma, an inherited condition in which cementomas (overgrowths of cementum, a calcified substance in teeth) develop in the jaws, pushing teeth out of their normal positions.
Environmental factors can also play a role in early tooth eruption. Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, as well as premature birth or low birth weight, can affect normal tooth development and eruption. Additionally, babies who are teething early may experience premature tooth eruption as a result of excessive chewing on objects or stress on the gums.
While baby teeth typically erupt between 6 and 10 months of age, there are several factors that can cause teeth to appear earlier than expected. If you are concerned about your baby’s dental development, talk to your pediatrician or dentist for advice and guidance.
Baby Teeth or Something Else?
When a baby is born with visible teeth, it is known as natal teeth. However, sometimes what appear to be teeth are actually something else.
One possible explanation for what appears to be a tooth is a gingival cyst. These are fluid-filled sacs that can form in a baby’s gums and can sometimes push a tooth-like structure through the surface. These cysts are generally harmless and can be left alone unless they cause discomfort or interfere with feeding.
Another possible explanation for a visible tooth-like structure is a bony protuberance. This occurs when a small piece of bone is present in the baby’s gums. This is also generally harmless and may not require any treatment unless it causes discomfort or interferes with feeding.
It is important to have any unusual or abnormal structures in a baby’s mouth evaluated by a pediatric dentist or healthcare provider to determine the cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Are Early Teeth Dangerous?
What is Early Tooth Eruption?
Early tooth eruption, also known as neonatal teeth or congenital teeth, is a rare condition where babies are born with one or more teeth. These teeth usually appear in the first month of life, before the baby reaches six months old, when teething usually begins.
Are Early Teeth Dangerous?
In most cases, early teeth are not considered dangerous and do not cause any harm to the baby. However, there are a few rare cases where these teeth can cause complications such as feeding difficulties, tongue or gum irritation, and choking hazards.
It is important to monitor the baby’s oral health and seek medical advice if any issues arise. The dentist may recommend removing the early teeth if they are causing problems.
How to Care for Early Teeth?
Parents should clean the baby’s teeth with a soft, damp cloth or a silicone finger brush after each feeding. Avoid using toothpaste until the baby is at least two years old. Also, do not disregard the baby’s oral health as early teeth are just as vulnerable to decay as permanent teeth. Regular dental checkups are recommended to ensure a healthy oral cavity.
Do Early Teeth Affect Breastfeeding?
Moms who have babies born with teeth may be wondering if these early teeth will affect breastfeeding. The good news is that for most babies, early teeth do not interfere with nursing. In fact, breastfeeding can actually help babies with teeth by providing relief and comfort to their sore gums.
However, some babies with teeth may have a tendency to bite while nursing. This can be painful and may even cause injury to the mother’s nipple. If your baby is prone to biting, try to catch it early and correct the behavior by gently removing them from the breast and saying “no biting.”
How to Help a Teething Baby Breastfeed:
- Try massaging your baby’s gums with a clean finger or a cold, wet washcloth before nursing.
- Experiment with different breastfeeding positions to find the most comfortable one for you and your baby.
- Offer your baby a teething toy to chew on before or after nursing.
- If necessary, consider using a nipple shield to protect your nipple from being bitten.
When to Seek Help:
If you experience significant pain while nursing or notice signs of infection such as redness or swelling, it’s important to seek help from a lactation consultant or your healthcare provider. They can help assess any potential issues and provide support and guidance to help you continue breastfeeding.
|Signs of Infection:||Fever||Flu-like symptoms||Redness or swelling in the breast||Painful lump in the breast|
Remember, breastfeeding is a natural and instinctual process, and your body and baby are designed to work together. Even if your baby is born with teeth, with a little patience, persistence, and support, you can continue to breastfeed successfully.
— By Jennifer A. Gardner, MD
What to Expect During the Teething Process?
1. Signs of Teething
Every baby is different, but common signs of teething include fussiness, drooling, chewing on objects, and swollen or tender gums. Your baby may also have trouble sleeping, have a decreased appetite, or experience mild diarrhea. Some babies may develop a low-grade fever, but if your baby’s temperature is over 100.4°F, it may be a sign of illness, not teething.
2. Timeline of Teething
Most babies begin teething between 4 and 7 months old, but it can happen as early as 3 months or as late as 12 months. The first teeth to come in are usually the bottom front teeth, followed by the top front teeth. By the age of 3, most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth.
3. Tips for Soothing Teething Pain
Gently rubbing your baby’s gums with a clean finger or a wet washcloth can help soothe the pain. Chewing on safe teething toys or a cool, damp washcloth can also provide relief. Over-the-counter pain medication should only be used under a doctor’s guidance.
- Choose teething toys made of safe materials, such as silicone or rubber.
- Avoid teething toys with small parts that could break off and be swallowed.
- Chill teething toys in the refrigerator before giving them to your baby. Never freeze them.
- Be aware of your baby’s chewing habits to prevent choking.
4. Dental Care for Baby Teeth
Even though baby teeth fall out eventually, it is important to take care of them to prevent decay and gum infections. As soon as the first tooth appears, gently clean it with a soft toothbrush and water. Once your baby can spit, around the age of 2, start using a rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Schedule your baby’s first dental appointment by the age of 1.
|Common Myths about Teething|
|Babies who are born with teeth are advanced.||The presence of teeth at birth is rare and usually harmless.|
|Teething causes fever, diarrhea, and other illnesses.||Teething can cause mild symptoms, but more severe symptoms are likely due to other causes.|
|All babies teeth at the same time.||Teething can occur at different times for each individual baby.|
How to Care for Baby’s Teeth?
It’s essential to start taking care of your baby’s teeth as soon as they emerge. Gums should be wiped with a damp cloth after each feeding, and once the first tooth appears, it should be brushed twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
Watch for Signs of Decay
Babies can get cavities too! It’s essential to look out for signs of decay, such as brown or white spots on the teeth. If you notice anything, a trip to the dentist is necessary.
Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks
Sugar can cause tooth decay, so it’s crucial to limit sugary foods and drinks, including breast milk and formula. Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle, and try to stick to water when they’re thirsty between meals.
Regular Dental Check-ups
Starting dental visits early sets the stage for a lifetime of good dental care. Regular dental check-ups can help catch any issues early on and prevent future problems.
Make Brushing Fun
As your baby grows, brushing their teeth can become a fun activity. Let your baby choose their toothbrush, sing a song, or make a game out of brushing to make it a positive experience.
Taking care of your baby’s teeth should be a priority from the very beginning. By starting early, watching for signs of decay, limiting sugary foods and drinks, regularly visiting the dentist, and making brushing fun, you can set your child up for a lifetime of good dental health.
Can Early Teeth be Removed?
Reasons for Early Teeth Removal
In some cases, babies may be born with more teeth than usual or develop teeth before the age of six months. These early teeth are known as natal teeth or neonatal teeth. While they are not harmful in most cases, they can cause problems such as difficulty in breastfeeding or accidental biting of the tongue or lip.
Moreover, some babies may develop teeth that are misshapen, crooked or discolored, causing aesthetic issues. In such cases, parents may consider early teeth removal to prevent future problems.
The Procedure for Early Teeth Removal
Early teeth removal is typically done by a pediatric dentist or an oral surgeon. The procedure is done under local anesthesia, and in some cases, general anesthesia may be required for children who are uncooperative or require extensive work.
The tooth is extracted using dental forceps or an elevating instrument, and the site is cleaned and sutured if necessary. The dentist may also recommend follow-up appointments and prescribe pain relief medication if required.
Risks and Considerations
While early teeth removal is generally a safe procedure, there may be some risks involved, including bleeding, infection, or damage to surrounding teeth or nerves. Parents should carefully consider whether the advantages of early teeth removal outweigh the risks, and should consult with a pediatric dentist or oral surgeon before making a decision.
Experts say, early teeth removal may be appropriate in certain cases, such as those involving natal teeth or aesthetic issues. However, parents should be aware of the risks and potential complications and should consult with a dental professional before deciding to have their child’s early teeth removed.
When to Seek Medical Help?
Normal Teeth Eruption
Babies generally start getting their first set of teeth, also known as primary teeth or baby teeth, between the ages of 6 and 12 months. The teeth usually appear in a specific order and the process can go on until the age of 2-3 years. In most cases, there is no cause for concern when a baby is born with teeth, and they should fall out naturally over time.
When to Seek Medical Help?
However, in some cases, the presence of teeth at birth may indicate an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed. If the baby has multiple teeth, the teeth have a strange shape or there is pain or discomfort during feeding, parents should seek medical help immediately. A dentist or pediatrician can examine the mouth and determine the best course of action.
In rare cases, the presence of teeth at birth may also lead to complications during breastfeeding, as the baby may bite the mother’s nipple. If this happens, parents should consult a lactation consultant for advice on how to deal with the problem.
Overall, it is important for parents to keep a close eye on their baby’s oral health and seek medical help if there are any unusual symptoms or concerns. Regular visits to the dentist or pediatrician can also help ensure that any potential issues are caught early on and addressed in a timely manner.
How to Prevent Early Teeth?
Providing the baby with a well-balanced diet is essential to prevent early teeth. Avoid giving sugary foods and drinks to your baby, as they can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Instead, focus on foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D.
Good oral hygiene practices should start from an early age. Gently wipe your baby’s gums with a soft cloth or gauze after every feeding. Once their teeth begin to appear, you can start brushing them gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste formulated for infants.
Regular dental checkups are crucial to maintaining your baby’s oral health. The American Dental Association recommends that children should have their first dental visit once their first tooth appears or before their first birthday. An early dental checkup can help diagnose any issues early on and prevent complications from developing.
Pacifier and Thumb Sucking
While pacifiers and thumb sucking can provide comfort to babies, prolonged use can cause problems with their teeth and gums. Limiting the use of pacifiers and thumb sucking can help prevent early teeth and other oral issues.
- Provide your baby with safe and clean toys to play with to distract them from sucking their thumb or using a pacifier
- Gradually reduce the use of pacifiers and thumb sucking until they no longer need it
Proper overall health can also contribute to preventing early teeth. Make sure your baby gets plenty of rest, as a lack of sleep can affect their oral development. Avoid exposing your baby to secondhand smoke, as it can lead to a range of health issues, including dental problems.
By following these simple tips, you can help prevent early teeth and ensure that your baby maintains their dental health throughout their life.
Baby Teeth Facts You Should Know
Baby teeth are temporary
Baby teeth are not permanent; they fall out to be replaced by adult teeth. Baby teeth start to emerge around 6 months of age and usually fall out between the ages of 6 to 12.
Baby teeth are essential for speech development
Baby teeth play a crucial role in speech development. They help children learn how to form words and speak clearly. If baby teeth are lost too early, speech can be affected.
Baby teeth can get cavities
Just like adult teeth, baby teeth can get cavities. To prevent tooth decay, parents should make sure their child brushes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and limit sugary foods and drinks.
Baby teeth set the foundation for adult teeth
The health of baby teeth can impact the development of adult teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early, it can cause the adult teeth to come in crooked or not at all.
Baby teeth can be extracted if necessary
If a baby tooth is severely decayed or damaged, it may need to be extracted. This can prevent infection and ensure that the adult tooth comes in properly. However, it’s important to note that baby teeth should be allowed to fall out naturally whenever possible.
The Bottom Line on Baby Teeth
When Do Baby Teeth Come In?
Baby teeth, also called deciduous teeth, usually start coming in around 6 months of age. The front teeth (incisors) are typically the first to emerge, followed by the lateral incisors, canines, and molars.
Why Are Baby Teeth Important?
Even though baby teeth eventually fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth, they play a crucial role in a child’s overall oral health and development. Baby teeth help with speech development, allow a child to chew food properly, and hold space for permanent teeth to come in properly.
It’s important to start taking care of baby teeth as soon as they emerge. This includes practicing good oral hygiene habits like brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and using an age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste.
What Happens if Baby Teeth Come in With Teeth?
While it may seem alarming, some babies are born with teeth or have teeth emerge within the first month of life. This phenomenon is called natal teeth or neonatal teeth. It’s important to seek the advice of a dentist or pediatrician if this happens, as it can potentially lead to breastfeeding difficulties and issues with mouth irritation. In some cases, the teeth may need to be removed to prevent further discomfort and complications.
Experts say, baby teeth are essential for a child’s oral health and development. Parents and caregivers should start taking care of baby teeth as soon as they emerge and seek professional advice if any issues arise.
Questions and Answers:
What are the reasons for a baby being born with teeth?
There is no clear reason why some babies are born with teeth, but it may be due to genetics or hormone imbalances during pregnancy. It can also be a result of a rare genetic condition called neonatal teeth, which affect about 1 in 3,000 babies. In most cases, having teeth at birth is harmless and the teeth will eventually fall out on their own.
Can a baby breastfeed with teeth?
Yes, a baby can breastfeed with teeth. However, it may cause discomfort for the mother if the baby bites down while feeding. It is important to teach the baby not to bite by gently removing them from the breast and saying “no”. Some mothers also find it helpful to use a breastfeeding shield to protect their nipples.
What is the best way to care for a baby’s teeth?
Caring for a baby’s teeth starts even before they are born. Expecting mothers should maintain good oral hygiene and nutrition to promote healthy tooth development. Once the baby’s teeth come in, parents should use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride-free toothpaste to gently clean their teeth twice a day. Avoid giving the baby sugary drinks or food and try to wean them off of the bottle by their first birthday.