Oregon City, OR
No, we are not about to tell you that sharks visit us at Great Grins for KIDS - Oregon City too. Despite how intimidating the name might sound, shark teeth are no cause for a parent’s alarm. Believe it or not, this is one of the most frequent conditions we deal with in dentistry. Having a second row of incoming teeth is relatively common in children and is nothing that can’t be corrected. If you spot a tooth or multiple teeth coming in behind your child’s first row and wish to make an appointment for us to take a look, please call our office at 971-470-0045.
What Are Shark Teeth?
Typically, children lose their first tooth between the age of four to seven. This process begins when the adult molars start pushing against the baby teeth from below, and special cells called odontoclasts cause the temporary tooth’s root to dissolve and be reabsorbed. That makes baby teeth fall out, which continues throughout the teen years until all permanent teeth have erupted.
Sometimes though, the process doesn’t go smoothly, and the adult tooth erupts before the baby tooth has been shed. They’re eager beavers, but too eager. This usually happens when the permanent tooth erupts behind the temporary one, taking the path of least resistance, instead of from directly below. We in the dental world refer to this as “ectopic eruption,” which is what leads to a child developing two rows of teeth. Hence, the nickname many parents have given it.
Shark teeth are most likely to occur during two periods of your kid’s life, firstly around age six when the lower front teeth (front incisors, on the tongue side) start growing in and then at age eleven when the upper back molars arrive. However, shark teeth can potentially happen at any age, and such disorganized crowding can affect your other teeth’s positioning over time.
What Do I Do about My Child’s Shark Teeth?
The first step is to, again, not panic. While it may look concerning at first glance, shark teeth rarely become an issue and treatment is more often than not unnecessary. If a permanent tooth is coming in but still in the erupting process, chances are that you have nothing to worry about. Baby teeth typically become loose enough to fall out on their own, aided with pressure from the tongue, so give it a couple of weeks and see if the problem resolves itself. If an adult tooth or multiple teeth are still coming in from behind to the point that they’re as tall as your child’s baby teeth and the baby teeth still aren’t loose, then it may be time to see us.
Shark Teeth Treatment Options
Once an adult tooth has completely emerged behind the baby tooth, there is no longer anything to push or dissolve its root. Therefore, intervention is needed. An X-Ray taken by one of our nurses allows us to get a good look at the positioning of the teeth before further action is taken. If the baby tooth obstructing the adult tooth’s path cannot fall out on its own, Dr. Fariba Mutschler or Dr. Mark Mutschler must perform a simple procedure to extract it. We typically ask to wait until both adult front teeth have fully erupted behind the baby teeth first, so the patient will not require more than one extraction.
If a child is deliberately not making an effort to brush or wiggle a loose tooth and the area becomes inflamed, irritated or sore, this may also necessitate an extraction. It’s important to talk to your child ahead of time about getting treatment, as he or she will most likely be nervous about the idea of having their tooth pulled, but please trust us to explain the details of what will happen. Rest assured. However, we take every step to make treatment as easy & painless as possible.
If your child has one or more adult teeth growing in and the baby tooth won’t come out or wiggle after enough time has passed that it should, please schedule a visit to Great Grins for KIDS - Oregon City at 971-470-0045 today.