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Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry
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8708 SE 17th Ave, Portland, OR 97202
(503) 235-0313
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Shark Teeth: When the Adult Teeth Grow in Behind the Baby Teeth

Posted on 4/10/2016 by Cynthia Pelley
A young boy suffering from shark teeth!Have you noticed that your child's permanent teeth are growing in before his baby teeth have fallen out?

Typically, the process of losing the baby teeth happens smoothly and on its own, with the baby teeth falling out and then the permanent teeth growing into the vacated positions.

When the permanent teeth start to come in before the baby teeth have moved out, your child may be living with a common condition known as "shark teeth."

What Causes Shark Teeth?

In a normal scenario, as your child grows, his permanent teeth will cause the roots of his baby teeth to dissolve. Once the roots have been eliminated, the baby tooth will loosen and fall out. Then, with an empty space available, the permanent tooth can grow in.

In the situation of shark teeth, the root of the baby teeth doesn't dissolve fast enough. Since the tooth stays in place, the permanent tooth will work its way up into the space behind it. This often gives the appearance of two rows of teeth.

There are other theories behind why shark teeth grow in. Some dentists feel that the permanent teeth begin to grow in behind the baby teeth due to excessive crowding in the lower jaw. Another theory believes that since the permanent teeth grow behind the baby teeth, it is a simple deviation that prevents the permanent teeth from moving as far forward as the need to.

Shark teeth can occur at any time, but there are certain times that see this issue more frequently. First, when your child is around six years old, shark teeth may develop when the lower front teeth begin to grow in. Later, around the time that your child is 11-12, shark teeth may develop again when the back molars of the upper jaw begin to appear.

How Are Shark Teeth Treated?

Shark teeth typically don't constitute as an emergency, but they will need to be addressed by your child's pediatric dentist, especially if the double row of teeth has lasted for three months or longer.

Your child's dentist will evaluate his mouth to determine if there is a problem, and then the treatment options will depend entirely on the situation. In many cases, the stubborn baby tooth will be extracted in order to create more room.

If your child's pediatric dentist has removed the baby tooth, but there still isn't enough room for his permanent tooth to move in, a procedure called disking may be performed.

With this procedure, the dentist will slim down a portion of the remaining baby teeth by taking some of the enamel off of the surrounding teeth. This process can allow appropriate room for the permanent tooth to move into its final position.

How Should We Care for an Extraction?

If your child needs to have a baby tooth extracted, you'll be sent home with a list of aftercare instructions to follow. Your child will likely experience some numbness until the anesthetic wears off, and during this time, it is important to discourage him from biting his tongue, lip, or cheek.

You should avoid serving any foods that require chewing, and stick to a soft diet. Staying hydrated is important, but you should avoid giving your child a straw, as the sucking action required to use a straw could loosen the blood clot and disrupt the healing process.

You should also keep an eye on the amount of bleeding that your child experiences. A gauze pack will be placed onto the extraction site after the tooth is removed, and it should stay in place for 45 minutes after your appointment.

If bleeding continues, use a new piece of gauze and have your child bite onto it for another 30 minutes. If bleeding does not stop or is severe, be sure to contact our office for guidance.

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Little Smiles Pediatric Dentistry - Cynthia Pelley | | (503) 235-0313
8708 SE 17th Avenue, Portland, OR 97202