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Is Your Child Developing Shark Teeth? Here’s What to Do

August 10, 2020

Losing baby teeth during childhood is an exciting milestone of growing up. However, what if those highly anticipated permanent pearly whites begin to come in before the baby teeth have fallen out? Although it can be somewhat alarming to see your little one developing rows of teeth, there’s no need to panic. This occurrence, often referred to as “shark teeth,” is typically easy to treat and rarely causes any lasting problems. Here’s everything you need to know about the development of shark teeth and what you can do about them to protect your little one’s oral health.

What Causes Permanent Teeth to Come in Behind Baby Teeth?

As a permanent tooth develops and begins to come in, it dissolves the roots of the baby tooth directly above it. Naturally, this will cause the primary tooth to loosen and eventually fall out so the adult tooth can take its place. However, permanent teeth don’t always grow in exactly where they should. If a permanent tooth develops in such a way that it doesn’t break the roots of the baby tooth, the baby tooth will stay in place and the permanent tooth will have to emerge behind it. Sharks also develop one set of teeth behind another, which is where the nickname “shark teeth” comes from!

When to Shark Teeth Typically Develop?

While shark teeth can happen at any time while your child’s baby teeth are falling out and being replaced by permanent teeth, there are two periods during development where they are most common. The first phase is when the lower front teeth grow in around the age of six. The next phase is several years later, when the upper back molars begin to appear around the age of 11. If your child grows a shark tooth behind one of the upper or lower front teeth, it’s likely that the same will happen to the other front tooth right next to it. In these cases, it may be beneficial to wait until both permanent teeth have begun to erupt so they can be treated at the same time.

What Should I Do If My Child Has Shark Teeth?

The first thing to do if your child starts to develop shark teeth is to check the stability of the baby tooth. If it’s loose, encourage your son or daughter to wiggle it. It’s always best if they can get it out on their own. However, if the tooth is only a little loose or not loose at all, it can be painful for them to try to dislodge it themselves. In these cases, you should bring your little one in to visit their dentist for an examination and X-rays. Your Rowlett dentist will be able to determine if the baby tooth may come out on its own over time, or if your child should have the baby tooth extracted. Once the baby tooth has been removed, your child’s tongue will naturally push the permanent tooth into place.

As a parent, there are plenty of things that don’t always go the way you expect or plan them to. However, if your child begins to develop shark teeth, there’s no need to worry. Simply keep the above information in mind and your little one will be enjoying their beautiful set of permanent pearly whites in no time!

About the Author

Dr. Tera Pollock of Rowlett Dental Kids has over 20 years of experience specifically caring for growing smiles. She is passionate about providing excellent, friendly dentistry for the unique oral health needs that a child’s developing teeth and gums need. For more extensive procedures or children that struggle with dental anxiety, she offers sedation dentistry alongside safe, reliable local anesthetic to help them feel as comfortable as possible throughout any treatment. If you’re concerned about your little one’s shark teeth, don’t hesitate to contact her via her website or at (469) 284-8895

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