Believe it or not, sometimes babies are born with teeth. These teeth are called natal teeth, and while they may look cute, they can actually cause problems for both baby and mom. To give you further insight into natal teeth, and their causes, we asked general and cosmetic dentist Dr. Lauren Becker, DDS, for her insight on the topic and more.
From the different types of natal teeth to when it's time to see a doctor, here's everything you need to know.
Unlike neonatal teeth, which start growing well after birth, natal teeth are present when a baby is born, says Dr. Becker. "This is usually not a common occurrence, but it can happen," she explains to Today's Parent.
Natal teeth usually appear on the lower gum and have little root structure, according to an article published by Mount Sinai Hospital. They also are wobbly and can cause irritation and discomfort.
According to an article published by Stanford Medicine Children's Health, natal teeth can be caused by certain conditions such as Soto syndrome, Pierre Robin syndrome, and Ellis van Creveld syndrome. These are rare genetic disorders that typically require further evaluation by a pediatrician. Sometimes an X-ray may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis, especially if a genetic disorder is suspected, according to an article published by Medline Plus in the National Library of Medicine.
According to MedLine Plus, natal teeth are removed when a newborn is still in the hospital, especially if the natal tooth is loose. "This is because loose teeth can be aspirated into the lungs because the root structures may not be fully formed," adds Dr. Becker.
Dr. Becker states that natal teeth can present in various ways. These may include fully developed teeth with attached roots (which is rare), loose teeth without roots, small teeth emerging from the gums, or indications of teeth about to erupt. If you are unsure about the specific type of natal teeth your child has, Dr. Becker advises seeking an appointment with a pediatrician or pediatric dentist for further evaluation. You'll also want to be on the lookout for symptoms such as a sore tongue and mouth, according to MedLine Plus.
If a baby is born with teeth, it can cause feeding problems for both mom and baby, explains Dr. Becker. "Natal teeth can cause pain during breastfeeding when a baby bites the breast," she says. "It can also hurt your baby's tongue or block the airway or lungs if your child accidentally inhales the tooth."
Although natal teeth can be associated with rare genetic disorders such as Soto syndrome, Pierre Robin syndrome, and or Ellis van Creveld syndrome, Dr. Becker suggests that sometimes there may be a genetic connection. "There have been hereditary traces in some, but not all cases of natal teeth," Dr. Becker tells Today's Parent. However, regardless of the cause, it's important to consult a doctor and pediatric dentist for further confirmation and proper diagnosis.
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