Do Baby Teeth in Front of Shark Teeth Need to Be Extracted?

Posted on: 23 February 2016

Typically, your child's baby teeth will fall out before the permanent teeth behind them are ready to come through; however, sometimes an adult tooth erupts behind an existing baby tooth or even in front of it. This leaves your child with two teeth in one gap rather than one, a condition commonly referred to as "shark teeth." In some cases, the situation rights itself; in others your dentist may need to extract the baby tooth.

When to Leave the Baby Tooth Alone

According to the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry, shark teeth are relatively common, occurring in 30% of children. Although having a double set of teeth may look a little weird, and you may worry that the permanent tooth is not coming through in the right place or is crooked, your dentist may advise you to leave the baby tooth as it is for the time being.

Typically, your dentist won't extract the baby tooth sitting in front of or behind a shark tooth if the baby tooth looks close to coming out naturally on its own. For example, if the baby tooth is wobbly, your child may simply be told to wobble it more until it becomes loose enough to fall out.

Tip: Don't worry if an adult shark tooth looks wonky or out of position. Once the baby tooth falls out, you're likely to see the adult tooth right itself and move into its correct location when it gets enough room to manoeuvre.

When to Extract the Baby Tooth

In some cases, your dentist may tell you that it's best to remove the baby tooth rather than wait for it to fall out. Sometimes, an adult tooth erupts out of position or before the baby tooth's root has been reabsorbed. This typically means that the baby tooth isn't wobbly enough to fall out quickly on its own (or with a little help) and, in some cases, it may not be at all loose yet.

Rather than wait, your dentist may make the decision to extract the baby tooth to allow the adult tooth to put itself in the correct position. Doing this early may reduce the need for orthodontic work later, according to Today's Dentistry. It may also help maintain good oral hygiene on the adult tooth. If your child can't clean a shark tooth because a baby tooth is in the way, food may get caught between the two teeth, potentially causing problems with decay later on.

Tip: If you see a permanent tooth erupting in your child's mouth before a baby tooth has fallen out, and you don't think the baby tooth is wobbly enough to come out in the next week or so, make an appointment for a check-up with a children's dentistry, such as Precision Dental Care @ Kingston.


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