Can Babies Be Born With Teeth? Natal Teeth Explained
Can Babies Really Be Born With Teeth? Here's What Experts Have to Say
Welcoming a baby into the world can come with many anticipatory questions from parents. While some parents are surprised by how much hair their newborn is born with, others are even more shocked to find out their baby was born with teeth, also referred to as natal teeth. Unlike neonatal teeth, which develop within the first month of life, natal teeth are already present at birth. And they can be a bit of shock to new parents.
Jordan Bloss-Wilson was one of those moms shocked to learn a newborn could be born with teeth already pushing through their gums. Sharing her surprise with TikTok, Bloss-Wilson posted an adorable video of her newborn son yawning, with several bottom teeth poking out.
"When your baby is born with teeth and all the hospital staff is in disbelief [because] they've never seen this before," Bloss-Wilson wrote on the video. The comment section was filled with a mix of reactions — some people echoed the experience, while others were left totally blow away by the idea.
So how common is it that babies are born with teeth? And what should parents do about natal teeth, if anything?
Can Babies Be Born With Teeth?
It appears so. "Typically, infants will get their lower front teeth (incisors) between 6-10 months of age with the upper incisors a few months behind," says Scott W. Cashion DDS, associate professor and residency program director at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Adams School of Dentistry. "However, that doesn't mean they won't get teeth earlier or later," Dr. Cashion adds. "If a baby is born with teeth, they are called natal teeth and generally located in the lower front."
How Often Are Babies Born With Teeth?
According to Dr. Cashion, "it is extremely rare for a baby to be born with natal teeth." But if your little one does have natal teeth, it can be diagnosed by a healthcare provider or a pediatric dentist with an oral exam of the child's mouth.
"It's important to know that 95 percent of the time, these teeth coming in at birth are the actual baby teeth that should have come in at 6-9 months," Jonelle Anamelechi, DDS, board-certified pediatric dentist and owner of Children's Choice Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, tells POPSUGAR. "It is also usually the bottom front teeth that come in at birth, and they usually come in pairs," she adds.
If you're checking your baby's mouth for natal teeth, they tend to look pretty similar to regular baby teeth. But parents may notice that the tooth looks as if it is not fully developed. It may appear "discolored, small and may have a weak root causing the tooth to be loose," Dr. Cashion says. Other times, the natal tooth looks like a normal tooth, he adds.
Why Might a Baby Be Born With Teeth?
The good news is that in most cases in which babies are born with teeth, it doesn't point to anything significant, and the cause is typically unknown. In other cases, a natal tooth can be a sign of a more serious condition.
Some medical conditions such as cleft palate and Pierre Robin syndrome that have head, neck, and jaw malformations may influence the teeth to come in earlier, Dr. Anamelechi says.
Are Natal Teeth Cause For Concern?
Again, natal teeth are typically harmless, but in some instances, the natal tooth can pose a safety risk and make nursing more difficult. "The biggest concerns are the actual tooth and its stability," Dr. Anamelechi says. Can it stay in the mouth if it is loose? Will it cause discomfort or a swallowing risk if it is too loose, especially when nursing? These are all questions that should be considered, Dr. Anamelechi says.
Dr. Cashion agrees, telling POPSUGAR that potential complications of natal teeth can "consist of problems with breastfeeding, injury to the child's tongue, and possible risk of child swallowing tooth if it breaks free."
What Should Parents Do If Their Baby Is Born With Teeth?
If a baby is born with teeth, it's usually spotted shortly after birth in their first infant medical evaluation in the hospital, Dr. Anamelechi says. A newborn having teeth usually isn't a concern that needs treatment immediately, but there are some cases where early intervention may be initiated. Dr. Cashion says if there is "difficulty breastfeeding, irritation to the tongue, and risk of swallowing the tooth if it comes out," these would all be considerations for early intervention.
Are There Treatments Recommended For Natal Teeth?
A healthcare provider may recommend removing the natal teeth if they pose a risk and if the root is not fully developed or it is extremely loose, Dr. Cashion says. "There are times when the tooth is more completely developed and can be monitored on a regular basis."
If your baby has natal teeth, Dr. Anamelechi says it's important to make sure you visit a pediatric dentist who can evaluate the cause and whether treatment should happen soon or if it can wait.
She also reminds parents it's important to "develop an oral-health routine from day one." While some parents may believe it's not important for their baby to see a dentist until they've lost baby teeth, Dr. Cashion reminds us that caring for baby teeth is crucial. "Not only do [baby teeth] help children speak clearly and chew naturally, they also aid in normal growth of the jaws and form a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt," he says. "In order to prevent dental problems and ensure healthy oral care, a child should see a pediatric dentist as soon as the first tooth appears, or no later than their first birthday."