Why Does Your Child Have Another Row of Erupting Teeth?

Why Does Your Child Have Another Row of Erupting Teeth?
Posted on 01/05/2021
Child with erupting teeth

If you notice that your child has another row of teeth erupting behind his or her baby teeth, you may wonder if this new row is a cause for concern. What you could actually be seeing are incoming adult teeth. This extra row of incoming adult teeth is colloquially known as shark teeth. Take a look at why this happens and whether or not your child needs treatment.

Why Do Shark Teeth Occur?

Usually, when adult teeth start coming in, they will actually dissolve the roots of baby teeth. When these roots dissolve, your child will develop a loose tooth that will eventually fall out to make way for the adult tooth. Sometimes, however, the roots of the baby teeth don't dissolve and so the incoming permanent tooth has nowhere to go except in front of or behind the baby tooth.

Are Shark Teeth Different From Supernumerary Teeth?

Supernumerary teeth are an anomaly where there is an excessive number of teeth compared to the standard dentition. The dentition is the general arrangement and development of teeth in your mouth. For instance, children usually have 20 baby teeth while adults usually have permanent 32 teeth. It's normal as a person grows to have a mixed dentition of both baby teeth and adult teeth.

While shark teeth may look like supernumerary teeth, they are just a part of a mixed dentition, as your child's baby teeth should fall out — or be extracted — and your child should have a normal number of adult teeth. People with supernumerary teeth tend to develop extra permanent teeth because of a congenital disorder, like Gardner's syndrome.

Does Your Child Need Treatment for Shark Teeth?

Your dentist may just want to monitor the situation to see if the baby teeth eventually fall out and make way for the adult teeth. Your dentist may encourage your child to eat foods that will loosen the baby teeth, like apples. He or she may have your child wiggle his or her teeth to help the roots dissolve, so the permanent teeth can correct their eruption path.

However, your dentist may recommend an extraction depending on the shark teeth's location. For example, if the shark teeth are erupting in such a way that they are causing crowding, then your dentist may want to extract the teeth so that your child doesn't develop orthodontic issues.

Another issue with shark teeth is that there may not be sufficient gum attachment on the incoming adult teeth; so, the dentist may want to extract your child's baby teeth to prevent gingival recession and avoid the need for future gum grafts.

Lastly, your dentist will consider whether the shark teeth are causing your child any pain. The erupting teeth may be placing pressure on your child's gums or other teeth. The shark teeth could also be difficult to clean, so your dentist might be concerned about cavities.

Are Tooth Extractions Okay for Shark Teeth?

Tooth extractions are actually a very common procedure to treat severe tooth decay or trauma in children, but you may have heard that tooth extractions aren't ideal for children. Why? Ideally, the baby teeth should act as placeholders for incoming adult teeth. These placeholders shouldn't be removed because then baby teeth could crowd and your child could need a space maintainer appliance.

However, if your child develops shark teeth, then the baby teeth are no longer acting as intended placeholders — they're actually just blocking the normal eruption of adult teeth! As you can see, this is a scenario when an extraction is a great route for removing an extra row of teeth and improving your child's oral health. Once the baby teeth are extracted, then the adult teeth may naturally move into the right position, or the dentist can use an appliance to correct their positioning.

Some pediatric dentists offer sedation dentistry, like nitrous oxide, so that an extraction isn't an anxiety-inducing experience for your child. Reach out to us at Treasured Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, LTD to learn more about shark teeth and extractions.