You may have seen or heard about babies who are born with teeth. Teething from birth may sound like something out of a horror movie, but it happens now and then. The teeth that are in a baby’s mouth since birth are called natal teeth or birth teeth. Natal tooth is a rare condition that occurs in about one case out of every 2000 to 3000 births. So, if you wonder can a baby be born with teeth, stay tuned.
What should you do if your Baby born with Teeth?
Most parents are terrified when they are faced with their natal teeth. Even though sometimes these baby teeth may not have roots, the natal teeth remaining in the mouth of the baby are considered a dangerous situation. Parents should seek surgery for these teeth with the help of pediatric dentistry. In fact, when babies are born with teeth, they can affect the way he/she lives in the future.
What is a Natal Tooth?
In most cases, the teeth that are present since birth are the natural teeth of the child. In rare cases, which account for less than 10%, natal teeth are extra. In such cases, they are called extra teeth and their number is added to the normal number of the child's teeth. Always remember to distinguish between natal and neonatal teeth that erupt about one month after birth. Children's milk (deciduous) teeth usually start to grow from six to ten months of age.
Usually, birth teeth are seen in the lower jaw at the front of the mouth and are usually in pairs. Upper natal teeth in the front of the mouth are less common, followed by canines and lower molars, and then upper canines and upper molars.
Natal teeth may look like normal ones or be smaller and yellowish in color. They often have a weak structure and are rootless or have a small root, which is why they are loose. However, it is possible that babies who are born with teeth have a completely healthy or almost healthy set of teeth.
Why are some Babies born with Teeth?
Although factors related to the growth of natal teeth have been seen, the exact cause is still unknown. Two root causes for this condition can be suggested: 1) tooth germ cells (cells that eventually form a tooth) that are close to the gum surface and 2) heredity. The timing of the eruption of milk teeth depends on genetics, so if one or both parents of a child have their teeth erupted too early or too late, there is a high probability that the child will also inherit the same condition. The findings of a research show that 15% of children who have teeth since birth have a parent, sister, brother, or close relative who had the same condition.
Sometimes a natal tooth is also related to a medical problem. Especially, natal large molars are associated with a condition called Pfeiffer syndrome, which is a genetic disorder, and Langerhans cell histiocytosis (a disorder of white blood cells). Among other rare medical conditions that are associated with teeth eruption from birth are:
- Cleft lip and palate
- Jadassohn Lewandowsky syndrome
- Ellis-Van Creveld syndrome
- Pierre Robin sequence
- Hallermann-Streiff syndrome (HSS)
- Wiedemann Rautenstrauch syndrome
- Sotos syndrome
What are the Risks or Complications of Natal Teeth?
If your child was born with a natal tooth, don't worry at all because this condition is usually nothing to worry about. However, you should be aware of its possible complications and risks. Refer the child to a specialist to examine the following issues:
Difficulty in sucking milk
A child born with teeth may find it difficult to suck milk. Some children refuse to eat milk because of difficulty or toothache.
Soreness of the tongue
Sometimes the natal teeth rub against the surface of the tongue and cause the tongue to be sore. This condition, known as Riga-Fede disease (RFD), may be painful for the baby and make him/her reluctant to breastfeed.
Hurting the mother's breast
In some cases, the sharp tooth of a baby can make the mother's nipple sore or cut. This makes it difficult for the mother to breastfeed the baby.
If these teeth are really loose, there is a possibility that they will be dislodged and inhaled, resulting in a choking hazard.
What to do when Babies are born with Teeth?
Since these are usually the baby's natural teeth that have erupted earlier, as long as they do not interfere with the baby's feeding or cause other problems, there is no need to take any special action for it. You can keep these teeth until they fall out at their natural age (six years) and are replaced by the primary teeth.
However, in some cases, teeth present at birth must be treated. If a baby is born with teeth that are too loose, the tooth may need to be extracted to prevent inhalation and choking. In case your baby has a mouth or tongue ulcer, the pediatric dentist can smooth out the sharp edges of the natal teeth. Or he/she can protect baby’s tongue from rubbing against the sharp tooth by using bonding resin the edges of the tooth. If this was not effective, the dentist may suggest to extract the tooth.
If the tooth does not irritate the baby, you just need to take care of it like a primary tooth. This means, you should clean the teeth after feeding in order to prevent them from decaying.
When should you visit the Dentist?
Birth teeth usually do not need treatment if they are not loose. If a child is born with a loose tooth that has no root, it may be recommended to extract the tooth with a simple surgery. These types of teeth may have the following risks:
- Suffocation due to accidental swallowing of a loose tooth
- Problems with eating
- Injury to the tongue
- Damage to the mother's breast during breastfeeding
A loose tooth is checked with an X-ray to determine whether it has a strong root structures or not. If there is no root, the tooth must be extracted.
It is important to maintain the dental hygiene of a newborn baby. You can wipe them with a damp cloth. Also, check your child's tongue and gums regularly for any signs of sores or injuries. After examining the birth tooth, the doctor recommends extracting it if it is loose or at a level that causes harm to the baby or the mother during breastfeeding. If the child has a sore in the mouth, seek medical treatment. If your baby was born with teeth, don't worry and consult a doctor.