Watching our children grow and develop in the early stages of their life can be both extremely exciting and can bring up many concerns and worries. We get many calls from concerned parents, especially when they notice something they have never seen before. It is wonderful when parents reach out to the experts when they have these types of concerns and questions. A very common concern we hear about is when a parent is brushing their child’s teeth and they notice a tooth erupting through the gum just behind the baby tooth! They ask if this is normal? They are concerned that their child has no room for their new teeth. They wonder if their child should see an orthodontist now?

Should you be concerned?

First, let’s look at the timeline of how a child’s teeth grow. Permanent teeth usually begin to erupt between the ages of 5 and 7. If they come in like they are supposed to, the permanent, or adult tooth will dissolve the root of the primary, or baby, tooth as it emerges causing the baby tooth to become loose and wiggly. It is wonderful when things happen the way nature intended! However, there are times when the adult tooth will erupt behind the baby tooth and in these special cases (that are actually quite common) we call them “shark teeth”, and in most cases do not cause any problems. So, how do you know if your child’s shark teeth are an issue you need to be concerned about?

Ask yourself:

  • Is the baby tooth starting to wiggle?
  • Is my child in that tooth loss time frame, 5-7 years of age when permanent teeth start to make an appearance?

If you answered “yes” to these questions you really have nothing to be concerned about and you simply need to be patient and allow that permanent tooth to do its job and dissolve that baby tooth’s root. That baby tooth will eventually fall out and the new permanent tooth will take its proper place in line.

When do Shark Teeth become a true cause for concern?

  1. If the baby tooth does not become wiggly after two months of the permanent tooth breaking through the gum. It may be time for a wiggle appointment with your dentist so they can help this little tooth along.
  2. The location of the shark tooth. If the tooth is behind a molar, this may cause a crowding issue and it may be best to discuss this with your dentist about the possibility of having a consult with an orthodontist.
  3. If the shark tooth is causing pain or discomfort above the normal discomfort when a tooth gets wiggly.

When should you call your dentist?

Call your dentist anytime! We are here for our patients whenever they have questions or concerns and we are very happy when parents are aware and involved in their child’s oral health. We are here to listen and discuss concerns and schedule an appointment if necessary.

Usually, shark teeth are no problem at all, but when in doubt give us a call!