Natal teeth are teeth that are present when an infant is born. About one in every 2,000 infants have natal teeth. These are not the same as neonatal teeth that erupt in your infant's mouth during the first month of life. Natal teeth are usually the infant's primary teeth (or baby teeth) that have come in early. If you child has natal teeth, they may be loose because the root is not completely developed.
Problems that may occur as a result of these teeth
- problems with breastfeeding, as an infant's natal teeth may hurt the mother
- if the tooth becomes dislodged, potential risk of your infant inhaling the tooth into his airway and lungs
Diagnosis of natal teeth
Natal teeth are usually diagnosed based on a complete history and physical examination of your infant. The teeth can be seen and usually your pediatrician can make a simple diagnosis. Your infant's pediatrician or dentist may also order x-rays (a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film) of the infant's mouth to help evaluate the problem.
How to care for natal teeth
Teeth that are loose may need to be removed to decrease the risk of your infant inhaling the tooth into his airways. Your infant's pediatrician or dentist can make this decision; one concern to discuss is that early removal of the teeth may lead to over-crowding of the permanent teeth when they erupt.