Most patients will lose their baby teeth during adolescence, but there are a rare few who experience one or two baby teeth that never fall out. Adults who still have baby teeth can function just as normally as they would with all permanent teeth, but there are some cases in which orthodontic treatment would be best to rectify any problems. A baby tooth that never falls out can cause problems with other teeth in the mouth and develop a cavity if it isn’t aligned well. Find out what treatment options are available and what you should do with your baby tooth with these tips!
For most children, all baby teeth will fall out by early adolescence and be replaced by permanent adult teeth; by age 21, most permanent teeth should be present in the mouth. Occasionally, though, some baby teeth never fall out, and for this reason, an adult tooth cannot replace it. These baby teeth that never fall out are called retained teeth, and although they are typically harmless, they can cause some dental issues. Regular dental checkups with the dentist early on in a child’s life can help parents identify problems with their child’s teeth development, which can help them develop a treatment plan. Out of all of the teeth in the mouth that are most likely to not fall out, typically it will be the second molar because it often doesn’t have a permanent tooth growing behind it. If these teeth remain in the mouth until at least age 20, they have a very low likelihood of causing any future complications. But if teeth like the incisors or first molars don’t fall out, orthodontic treatment typically is required to remedy dental complications that they can cause to adjacent teeth.
Since retained baby teeth are a fairly common occurrence, quite a few reasons have been discovered for the cause of their retention. One reason why baby teeth don’t fall out is from hyperdontia, or when you have extra teeth so there isn’t room in the mouth for permanent teeth to erupt. Tooth agenesis is another condition, though rare, in which the majority or all of the permanent teeth are completely missing. In other cases, the tooth is fused to the jawbone so it cannot erupt, or a traumatic injury or infection prevents a tooth from developing and/or erupting as it should.
Not all retained baby teeth cause dental complications. Depending on which tooth does not fall out, some patients can live out the rest of their lives without any issues. Whenever the adult baby tooth isn’t aligned well with the other teeth, however, it can be much more difficult to clean and cavities can develop. A misaligned baby tooth can cause the teeth around it to tip or become misaligned, as well, which will need to be fixed by an orthodontic appliance. One main problem that patients are worried about with a retained tooth is the look of it in their mouth. Some patients have a retained tooth at the front of their mouth, which isn’t aesthetically pleasing and can be bothersome. Retained baby teeth can also cause occlusal trauma, which is when the teeth do not line up whenever you close your mouth. For some patients, a lingering baby tooth can cause a gap in between teeth, called diastema. Some of these issues, like misaligned teeth and occlusal trauma, should receive orthodontic treatment, while others, such as diastema, are strictly aesthetic and if the look of the tooth (or gap) doesn’t bother you, then no treatment is needed.
For those who opt in to remove their retained baby tooth, there are a few options to choose from. First and foremost, an orthodontist should evaluate the tooth and determine how critical it is to remove the tooth. A simple examination is enough for the orthodontist to identify any problems being caused by the tooth and what treatment plan he/she recommends. A well-aligned tooth, even if it is a baby tooth, maintains the bone and tissue structures in the mouth, so if the tooth isn’t bothering you, it doesn’t need to be removed. Most commonly, an orthodontist can reshape the tooth or will remove it and replace it with a prosthetic tooth. This prosthetic tooth is typically called an implant, and it is the best option for replacing a misshapen/misplaced tooth. If teeth are crowded, however, the recommended option is to remove the tooth entirely and close the gap, instead of replacing it with an implant.
If you are suffering from a retained baby tooth, call Stonebrook Family Dental at (303) 872-7907! Our experienced staff is dedicated to your oral health needs and is ready to help you get the beautiful smile that you’ve always dreamed of. Call now for a consultation and to find out what you can do to improve your oral health!