Neonatal and Natal Teeth

Have you ever wondered why we have baby teeth if we’re just going to lose them?

What are baby teeth?

Baby teeth are also known as primary teeth. Twenty baby teeth will grow into place between the ages of 6 months to 2 years. Slowly, over the next few years, these primary teeth will be replaced by the secondary, or permanent, teeth.

Why baby teeth are important:

1. Place holders in a growing jaw for adult teeth

One of the most important roles that baby teeth play is to save space for the 32 permanent teeth that will soon take their place. The anatomy and structure of a newborn’s jaw is not large enough to hold a mouth full of permanent teeth, so the primary teeth help to solve this issue.

2. Chewing and eating

Since adult teeth start to come in around the age of six or seven and continue to push through the gums in the jaw until the teenage years, it is clear the importance of having primary teeth in order to chew and consume proper nutrients for a young, growing body.

3. Speech

The tongue, teeth, and lips all play important roles in the function of speech. Primary teeth allow us to speak efficiently while we are awaiting the presence of permanent teeth.

What are natal and neonatal teeth?

If a newborn is born with teeth, these are called natal teeth. If a newborn receives teeth within 30 days of being born, these are called neonatal teeth. For more information on natal and neonatal teeth, click HERE.

Are natal and neonatal teeth harmful for your baby?

Both natal and neonatal teeth have little root formation, so the chances increase of these teeth becoming loose and being inhaled by the newborn. These premature teeth may also cause irritation or injury to the infant’s soft tissue and cause the infant to experience a sore mouth.

In addition, infants with natal or neonatal teeth may cause injury or discomfort to the mother while breastfeeding.

What do I do if my child has neonatal or natal teeth?

If your baby is born with teeth or if your baby receives teeth within the first four weeks after birth, it is important to see a dentist to assess whether or not the natal or neonatal teeth are reason for concern. If so, the dentist may suggest removing the teeth for the baby’s safety and/or for the breastfeeding mother’s comfort.

Dr. Ash is the founder of Studio Dental Care. He earned his Doctorate at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, followed by two General Residencies at New York-Presbyterian / Weill-Cornell Hospital and the UCLA Sepulveda VA Hospital.

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