Shark teeth, or kids having two rows of teeth because their permanent teeth came into the mouth without their baby teeth falling out, is very common. And parents asking us about what to do is very common, too! “Is this an emergency or can we wait for our next dental appointment?”
The answer is, yes, you can wait. It’s not an emergency. But, it is something that needs to be addressed because a baby tooth that is not knocked out by the developing adult tooth likely will never fall out and create massive crowding problems.
We consider it part of our job to keep parents calm and informed. Two rows of teeth is extremely common and may either resolve itself or require very simple treatments to correct.
When there is adequate jaw size for the developing teeth, baby teeth usually act as a place holder for developing teeth and even help guide the permanent teeth where to go. The permanent teeth emerge from under the baby teeth, so the baby teeth get loose and fall out when the permanent teeth are ready. Having the baby teeth there right up until the arrival of the adult tooth is ideal. In fact, one of the issues monitored in pediatric dentistry are baby teeth lost too early. Space loss from early loss of baby teeth is one of the most common causes of orthodontic problems.
This is something dentists and orthodontists try to fix so that the permanent teeth come in as they should, straight and in the right place! Each tooth has an assigned seat in the mouth and those seats need to be available when teeth want to arrive.
But then, sometimes, like in this case, the permanent teeth can erupt either behind or in front of the baby teeth. We call it shark teeth because sharks have multiple rows of teeth.
Here’s what you should do:
- Check the baby teeth. Are they wiggly or loose? If they are very wiggly, wait it out as they may soon fall out.
- Not yet wiggly? Continue to wait but monitor weekly. And make sure your child practices good dental hygiene to protect his/her growing permanent teeth.
- If the baby teeth and the permanent teeth are approaching the same height, and the baby teeth are still not wiggly, schedule an appointment so your dentist or orthodontist can check what can be done. Sometimes we just have to help wiggle out the baby teeth and the pressures from the soft tissues of the tongue and cheek will help reposition the out-of-position teeth.
And, if you’re just not sure or feel uncomfortable about what you see in your child’s mouth, never hesitate to call us. We just want to clear the air about this commonly perceived “emergency” as our goal is to educate our patients about common dental problems.
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.