If your child has a tooth growing in behind another tooth, don’t panic. It’s a relatively common occurrence in children, and although it can look scary, it’s easy to treat and there are not usually ongoing problems.
Most children will start to lose their baby teeth and get permanent teeth between the ages of five and seven. When a permanent tooth erupts directly underneath a baby tooth, it resorbs the root of the baby tooth, causing it to become loose and fall out so that the permanent tooth can take its place. Sometimes, however, a permanent tooth will not grow in directly underneath the baby tooth, and the root of the baby tooth will remain intact and it will not get “pushed out”. When that occurs, the permanent tooth will usually start to come in right behind the baby tooth, giving a child a “shark tooth” appearance. The most common place for this to occur is the lower and upper front teeth, but it can happen anywhere.If your child has a tooth behind a tooth, you need to check how loose the baby tooth is. If it’s very loose, encourage your child to work on wiggling the tooth out. If he or she can get it out on their own, that’s always best. If the tooth is only a little bit loose or not loose at all, he or she will probably have to come to our office to get the tooth extracted. Once the baby tooth is out, your child’s tongue will naturally push the permanent tooth forward into the correct position. Children who have moderate to severe crowding may not have room for the permanent tooth even after the baby tooth is out, and an orthodontic consultation would be appropriate.
If your child’s “tooth behind a tooth” involves the lower or upper front teeth, there is a good chance it will happen with the other front tooth right next to it. For that reason, it may be best to wait until both teeth have started to erupt before bringing your child in so that they don’t have to go through the extraction process more than once.
If you’d like to call our office to discuss your child’s situation, we would be happy to help you decide what the best course of action is.