Disclosure:: This post is sponsored by Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry and authored by Dr. Anita Gouri.
Shark Teeth and Braces and Emergencies, Oh My!
Sometimes you just want to know something without making an official dental visit, am I right? I wondered what people wanted to know most so I polled my staff and friends. This post covers the most popular pediatric dental queries.
“The permanent teeth are growing behind the baby teeth—is that normal??”
Yes. Very normal. People often refer to this common condition as “shark teeth,” because it looks like a double row of teeth. It is really a temporary situation caused by permanent teeth growing in at an inappropriate angle, a little further back or off to the side than they should be. As a result, they don’t “push out” the baby incisors they will be replacing, and the baby incisors take longer to fall out without the “help” of the permanent teeth. In some cases, the baby teeth do not get loose at all and your pediatric dentist needs to help out.
So if the baby teeth are loose, and get progressively looser (having your child “wiggle” the teeth frequently helps!), I am not worried. The baby teeth will eventually fall out. However if the baby teeth are not loose at all and do not seem to be getting loose, call us! In this case, the permanent teeth will continue to remain behind the baby teeth much longer than they should, and a pediatric dentist must extract the baby incisors.
Whether the baby teeth fall out on their own or they have to be extracted, rest assured that the permanent teeth WILL move forward into the proper space! When the “obstacle” of the over-retained baby teeth is gone, the permanent teeth are no longer impeded, and the tongue will slowly guide them into place over time.
“I keep seeing kids get braces earlier and earlier. When should my child see an orthodontist?”
It is very common to see a child from 6-10 years of age in an early, less comprehensive phase of orthodontics, more commonly known as a “1st phase” of braces. Contrary to popular belief, it is not because orthodontists are trying to move baby teeth or make more money! There are many instances where early braces are necessary to make room for the first permanent teeth to grow in, due to a lack of space in the mouth. Another common condition that often requires early orthodontic intervention is a narrow palate. Palatal expansion is done more quickly and effectively around age 6 or 7, and is often necessary if the palate is so narrow that permanent teeth have no room to come in. Many children with narrow palates also have what is commonly referred to as a prominent “overbite,” where their front teeth “jut” out too far because there is no room for them to properly align within the narrowed arch. I usually recommend early orthodontics to fix this condition because these front teeth are prone to injury and sensitivity due to the poor positioning. These are just some of many examples that warrant early intervention.
While a first phase of orthodontics does not necessarily eliminate the need for a second round of braces in the teenage years (once all of the baby teeth have fallen), it is simply necessary to correct conditions that would otherwise worsen orofacial growth and development if left untreated. For example, I have seen many orthodontic cases that required extractions of permanent teeth which could have been avoided with an early phase of palatal expansion. I have seen an untreated underbite cause severe gingival recession on permanent teeth that required a graft in the teenage years.
In short, there are many significant justifications for early orthodontic treatment. As such, I usually recommend an orthodontic consult by the age of 8, or earlier if there are significant needs.
My child fell and hit his mouth! Does his dentist need to see him immediately? Not always. It is important to get a good look at your child’s mouth first.
- Knocked out permanent tooth. Timely re-insertion of the tooth is crucial to saving it. Hold the tooth by the crown, not the root, and if possible gently try to reinsert the tooth into its socket. Do NOT clean or scrub the tooth with soap first. If you cannot re-insert the tooth, put it in a cup of milk or saliva. Make sure the tooth is completely covered. See Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry immediately so that it can be re- implanted.
- Displaced or loose permanent tooth: Call Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry for repositioning of the tooth. Timing is also critical for this, so that the tooth doesn’t “heal” in the displaced state, making it more difficult to reposition later.
- Chipped or Fractured Permanent Tooth: Clean the area so that you can get a good look at the tooth. Call Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry immediately to describe what you see. This may or may not require immediate attention—we will let you know. If possible, locate and save any broken tooth fragment(s) and bring them with you when you see us.
Take your child to the nearest Emergency Room right away if one of the following has happened:
- Severe Blow to the Head
- Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw: Keep the jaw from moving while in transport
Other conditions you should definitely call us for but rarely require immediate action:
- Broken or Bumped Baby Tooth/Busted Lip: Apply an ice pack to the lip to reduce swelling/bleeding. This will help you better visualize the injured area so that you can see if a tooth is loose or displaced. Call Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry and describe what you see. This may or may not require immediate attention—we will let you know. Typically, baby teeth will tighten back up or possibly reposition themselves slowly over time, and it is something we monitor closely.
- Toothache: Call Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry! Even if it is after hours. You will be connected with one of our doctors. We will advise you on treatment for pain and/or infection.
- Bleeding after a baby tooth falls out: Cold, soft foods like an Icee or ice cream can help the bleeding to stop. Keep your child on a soft diet and avoid using straws for the day.
- Cut or bitten tongue, lip, or cheek: Apply ice or soft, cold foods to the injured area. Tissue inside the mouth is pretty resilient and usually heals quickly, though it may look yellowish during the recovery process. Not to worry—this is not pus or an infection. It is temporary. Call Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry for an appointment.
When in doubt, call Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry with any questions! Our number, 337-981-9242, is answered 24 hours! Additionally you can visit our website, LafayettePediatricDentistry.com, to book an appointment or find out more info on other dental topics!
***COVID-19 UPDATE :: Lafayette Pediatric Dentistry is excited to be open again and accepting calls for appointments! Click HERE to see all safety protocols in place.***