Updated January 2021
Why does it look like my child has shark teeth? As pediatric dentists, we hear this question frequently.
When a child reaches school-age, the permanent front teeth begin to erupt. In a previous blog post, we discussed the average ages when the permanent front teeth are supposed to erupt.
The theory is that when a permanent tooth erupts underneath a baby tooth, it is supposed to resorb the root of the baby tooth which is why the crown of the baby tooth eventually becomes loose and wiggles itself out (sometimes with a little help from the parents!).
Sometimes, the adult tooth erupts in a different location than normal, and therefore does not do its job of resorbing the baby tooth root. In this case, it may look like your child has two rows of teeth, one row of adult teeth and one row of baby teeth.
Baby teeth that are left in the mouth for a long period of time after the permanent teeth are coming into the mouth, can sometimes make the permanent teeth come in crooked; which makes braces more likely down the road. If you check the baby tooth and it is not loose, then it is time to call your dentist. In addition, if the tooth does not become loose over time as the permanent tooth comes further into the mouth; it’s time to call the dentist. The dentist may recommend pulling the baby tooth. This allows the adult tooth can come into the mouth in a good position. A lot of times the baby tooth is not loose because the adult tooth did not dissolve the root of the baby tooth all the way.
However, if the baby teeth are very loose, by all means, go ahead and wiggle the row of baby teeth! If the row of baby teeth are not very loose or you are having difficulty wiggling them out, contact your pediatric dentist. It is important to wiggle the baby teeth out so that the adult teeth can move forward into their natural position. If the baby teeth are left in place for too long, this can lead to crowding, rotations, and problems with how your child’s teeth function and fit together.
So if your child’s teeth resemble a shark – no fear, it’s not as scary as Jaws. Hang in there, and make sure to ask your dentist any questions you may have at your child’s next check-up appointment.