Hmmm, That Doesn’t Look Right

Hmmm, That Doesn’t Look Right

The picture above shows a child growing their front middle adult teeth. As you can see, there seems to be a problem with the baby teeth still in there.


Before you pick up the phone to call your dentist because you think your kid has shark teeth, I want you to know this is normal!


The lower adult teeth usually come in on the inside of the baby teeth – that is, on the tongue side of the baby teeth on the lower arch. The tongue will work those new teeth forward into alignment and eventually force the baby teeth out.


The upper adult teeth usually come in slightly on the outside of the baby teeth – that is, the adult teeth erupt on the lip side of the baby teeth on the upper arch. The lip will eventually push the adult teeth backwards to align the teeth and the baby teeth will become more mobile and eventually fall out.


It is also important to remember that loose teeth take time to fall out. This process can take months because the roots of the baby teeth have to be resorbed before they become wiggly.


And know that just because a tooth is loose does not mean that your child will wiggle the tooth every chance they get. Sometimes it hurts so they treat that tooth gingerly by not touching it or not chewing with it. Sometimes your child just does not want to lose that tooth yet. This will delay the process but it is natural.


So When Should You Call Your Dentist?

Not all adult teeth will be this easy to align. Take a look at this situation:


This child has already lost a couple baby teeth but the two adult teeth growing in are going to cause two more baby teeth to fall out. That’s not right. So even though the position of the adult teeth are fine, there are problems here.


You may notice that the adult teeth are disproportionately larger than the baby teeth. That could be a reason why more baby teeth are being lost before they are replaced by adult teeth. The baby teeth in this case will still fall out but it is a sign that this child will need orthodontic treatment later on because the adult teeth will be crowded when they erupt.


In some cases, the roots of the baby teeth can fuse with the surrounding bone. You can tell this is happening when the adult tooth is clearly erupting next to the baby tooth but the baby tooth is not wiggly at all and even though the adult tooth keeps erupting, the baby tooth remains solid. These baby teeth will need to be pulled by the dentist because they will not fall out on their own.


This is a simple introduction to that period when your child is growing their first adult teeth. This usually happens at around ages 5-7. As your child gets more adult teeth, the picture becomes increasingly complex but this is still fine as long as a dentist is seeing your child every six months.


Phuong Luu, DDS