You look inside your child’s mouth and something looks a bit off. There’s a double row of teeth in the front of their mouth. Cue the soundtrack from “Jaws” – it’s Shark Week in there! But no need to worry, this occurrence is actually not a dental emergency, and is very common among our 5-7 year old patients. In the dental world we call this “ectopic eruption” and occurs when a permanent tooth comes in behind the baby tooth before the baby tooth falls out. This most commonly happens to the lower front teeth, which are also the teeth that usually fall out first.
Typically the permanent teeth dissolve the roots of the baby teeth as they move up, but sometimes due to crowding or unusual positioning, the permanent teeth are forced to erupt behind the baby teeth. More often than not an ectopic eruption will resolve on its own without Dr. Erica having to extract any baby teeth. The baby teeth usually become loose enough over time so kids can take out their own teeth and then the permanent teeth will move forward into place thanks to pressure from the tongue.
There are instances when the baby teeth do need assistance getting out of the way with the help from a dentist. If the permanent teeth continue to erupt behind the baby teeth so that they’re almost as tall as the baby teeth with only limited mobility, Dr. Erica might recommend extractions in the office. If a child is purposely not wiggling or brushing a loose tooth and the area becomes increasingly inflamed, irritated, and sore, that may also indicate an extraction. If a double row ever shows up with the upper teeth, an extraction is always indicated because the tongue will not push the permanent teeth forward.
If your child does need an extraction of an over-retained baby tooth, you can count on Dr. Erica and her assistants Lori and Ann Marie to make the procedure as easy and painless as possible for your child! Usually the tooth is already a bit loose and the extraction is relatively easy. We also have nitrous oxide/”laughing gas”, a TV mounted on the ceiling, a specialized injection device to make delivering novicaine easier, and plenty of tooth fairy swag to offer at the end! If you have any questions about your child’s teeth and how they’re erupting – feel free to give our office a call, e-mail us a photo of the teeth, or visit us in the office for a quick check. Tooth fairy time is such a fun time for kids, even when those baby teeth are extra stubborn!!
Erica Pitera, DMD
Pediatric Dentist + Owner