For almost all children, the process of growing and losing teeth goes smoothly. However, between 1-4% of children grow a supernumerary, or extra tooth, at some point before their mouths are finished developing. If your child has grown an extra tooth, it's important to understand their condition, the potential risks, and what you can do to get their teeth back to normal.
What causes extra teeth to grow?
Teeth grow from a base called a lamina. Supernumerary teeth are almost always formed due to a problem with the lamina being hyperactive, failing to disappear after the growth of adult teeth, or being split and forming two teeth instead of one.
In some cases, genetic disorders can also be the cause of extra tooth growth. Children with Gardner syndrome, Fabry Anderson's syndrome, Ehler-Danlos syndrome, or a cleft palate should have their teeth regularly monitored for the appearance of supernumerary teeth.
How can extra teeth affect your child's life?
Supernumerary teeth typically appear in the upper arch of the mouth, though they can sometimes appear elsewhere. When added teeth form where normal teeth are currently growing, malocclusion, or dental misalignment, is the typical result.
Malocclusion can cause one or more of the following symptoms for your child, and multiple supernumerary teeth are likely to increase the likelihood of symptoms developing.
- Crowding of your child's teeth may cause them to crack, fuse, or even fall out.
- Oral pain is typically experienced when malocclusion occurs.
- Added teeth may cause your child to have difficulty speaking and possibly to develop a speech impediment.
- Biting and chewing become difficult with supernumerary teeth.
- In severe cases, your child may have difficulty opening and closing their mouth.
- Depending on the location of the new teeth, your child's face may appear abnormal or misshapen.
What should you do if your child grows extra teeth?
If your child develops supernumerary teeth, you should immediately take them to an orthodontist. Depending on the location of the teeth, the typical treatment is simply to remove the tooth and stitch the empty tooth socket closed. If your child has a supernumerary tooth extracted, you can expect recovery to take anywhere from one to two weeks.
In some cases, a supernumerary tooth may be used to replace a tooth that was lost or never grew in. If the extra tooth is close enough to where the missing one should be, orthodontists like Bristol Dental Group may advise using a retainer or braces to move the tooth into place, rather than extracting it.
Don't panic if your child has grown an extra tooth. With a quick dental appointment you can protect your baby's oral health and have any problems diagnosed right away. In a week or two, there may not be a sign that anything was ever wrong at all.