Your Baby Can Be Born With Natal Teeth
Did you know your baby can be born with teeth? It’s an uncommon event in pediatric dentistry, but it does happen.
Natal teeth can be a sign of a number of different medical conditions. In addition, they can cause problems with feeding, airway and breathing, and oral health. For this reason, your pediatrician or healthcare provider may recommend removing them.
Keep reading if you want to learn more.
What are Natal Teeth?
Natal teeth, or fetal teeth, are different from neonatal teeth (baby teeth), primary teeth, and permanent teeth.
Neonatal teeth, or baby teeth, usually start appearing within a baby’s first month of life, though it‘s not uncommon for a large number to appear between six and ten months of age. These primary teeth are usually all in place by age three.
Children begin to lose these teeth around age six, when their permanent teeth begin to erupt.
Natal teeth, on the other hand, are present when your little one is born.
Natal teeth are often not fully formed, and can be smaller than normal teeth. They may be yellow or brown in color. They may also be loose, or have weak roots or poor root formation.
Usually no more than two or three natal teeth are present at birth. The most common types of natal teeth are:
- Central incisors (85%)
- Maxillary incisors (11%)
- Mandibular cuspids or molars (3%)
- Maxillary cuspids or molars (1%)
Your healthcare provider or pediatric dentist should be your first stop when it comes to information about natal teeth, or any other medical issue related to them.
Are They Common?
No. Natal teeth are quite uncommon. In fact, by some estimates, the incidence of natal teeth is between one in 800 and one in 6000.
Health professionals don’t yet quite understand the cause of natal teeth. However, they are more likely to occur in children with certain medical conditions, including:
- Sotos Syndrome
- Pachyonychia Congenita
- Chondroectodermal Dysplasia (Ellis-van Creveld syndrome)
- Hallermann-Streiff syndrome
- Cleft lip and cleft palate
- Pierre-Robin Syndrome
In addition, the prevalence of natal teeth is higher in particular populations, such as certain Native American groups.
How are Natal Teeth Diagnosed
Often, natal teeth are discovered as a result of problems such as difficulty feeding or oral bleeding. Sometimes, parents may see the teeth and approach their health care provider with questions.
If you suspect your baby has natal teeth, your pediatrician or pediatric dentist may do a visual exam. They may then perform an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
An X-ray can also determine whether these first teeth are part of normal dentition or are supernumerary teeth (over and above the normal number).
What Problems Can Natal Teeth Cause?
Natal teeth may or may not cause problems, depending on the number and location.
Some of the problems that natal teeth may cause include:
1. Riga-Fede Disease
Riga-Fede Disease refers to ulcerations on or under a baby’s tongue, which are caused by the teeth.
2. Risk of Aspiration
Because natal teeth are often small and loose, there’s a danger that a baby may breathe them in while feeding.
3. General Pain
Erupting natal teeth may cause pain for your baby, even if they’re not causing other problems.
4. Feeding Difficulties
Natal teeth can cause a number of problems during breastfeeding.
First, they can make it painful for the mother if the baby bites the breast while feeding. There’s also a risk that those bites may become infected if they break the skin.
Because the teeth are often loose, there’s also a danger that the baby may inhale loose teeth while feeding.
Finally, natal teeth can make feeding painful, which may make a baby refuse to nurse.
If you’re experiencing any of these problems, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and possible treatment.
How Are Natal Teeth Treated?
In some cases, your healthcare provider may not want to treat natal teeth. In other cases, they may recommend removal as a preventive measure.
How Should You Take Care of Your Baby's Natal Teeth?
If your baby’s natal teeth aren’t causing a problem, and your doctor recommends leaving them in place, ask your doctor for specific care tips.
Colgate recommends gently wiping natal teeth with a cloth to keep them clean. But remember, natal teeth may be looser and have weaker roots, so they may come out quite easily. If this happens, do not try to put them back.
Also be sure to inspect your child’s mouth regularly to make sure that the teeth aren’t causing any damage to your baby’s tongue, cheeks, soft tissue, or gums.
When Will the Natal Teeth Fall Out?
In about two thirds of cases, natal teeth fall out within the first year of life. So even if problems from natal teeth arise, don’t worry, they won’t last for too long!