I was helping my five year old brush his teeth one night when I noticed something strange in his mouth. It almost looked like a growth behind his front teeth on his gum. After closer inspection I realized it was a tooth trying to pop in! My first reaction was probably not my best mom-moment as I yelled “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING!”
I thought for sure my son had some weird tooth condition so as one does I turned to the internet for help and a resolution. Turns out, it wasn’t so weird after all, but was a very common tooth development that people call shark teeth. Shark have two rows of teeth, so when a toddler’s adult teeth come in behind their baby teeth instead of directly underneath, they call it shark teeth.
Now, my son totally dug it. Who wouldn’t want to have a bad ass mouth full of teeth just like a shark? I, on the other hand, was less thrilled. I did a quick check of the baby teeth in front and none of them were loose. Was he going to just have two rows of teeth for the rest of his life? If his front teeth DO finally fall out, will his adult teeth stay that far back? Was he going to be known as Shark Boy at his 25 year high school reunion?
After calming the hell down, I chatted with my dentist and did some research on what to expect as the shark teeth begin to come in. Here are some helpful tips I learned!
- Shark teeth, or ectopic eruption, is actually pretty common. One out of ten kids will have it!
- Typically, the adult tooth comes up under the baby tooth and pushes it out. But sometimes those baby teeth are stubborn and won’t budge. The roots of the baby teeth don’t dissolve or it could also be due to a small mouth size.
- Shark teeth in itself is no reason to panic. First, assess if the baby teeth are loose. If they are, encourage wiggling and try to get them out ASAP to give the adult teeth time to move forward in to the correct slot.
- If you try on your own to get the baby teeth out and are having no luck, you may want to have your dentist take a look. Most say give it a couple of weeks of wiggling first. Leaving the adult teeth back there too long could prevent them from moving in to the proper slot and will require future dental work to correct.
- Your dentist may do an evaluation and determine that the baby tooth needs to be pulled to get things moving. I’m not going to lie, this might suck for both you and your child. This was the result of my son’s first shark tooth, and first ever baby tooth lost and to say it went smoothly would be a lie. It went as well as I imagined with his love for the dentist completely dashed. He cried, I cried, it wasn’t fun. When a second shark tooth popped up we wiggled that baby tooth out like our lives depended on it!
- The adult teeth may take weeks or months to move in to the correct position. In the interim, just get used to a mouthful of jumbled teeth!
We are two-for-two with shark teeth now. One needed to be extracted, the other we were able to wiggle out ourselves. In the baby tooth’s wake we were left with two very crooked and mangled looking teeth that I am hoping get pushed in to the right position. Our dentist warned that my son’s mouth is quite small and the overcrowding will probably be a long-term issue until braces can come in to the equation.
I remember thinking when his baby teeth came in how perfectly spaced they were. Apparently that’s exactly what you DON’T want to see. Space is better so the bigger adult teeth have room. Who knew?
I better start saving my pennies now for all those orthodontist visits!
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. What the hell does that mean? It means I might get compensated if you click on and purchase something from some of the links below. And by compensated I mean pennies. But hey, beer money is beer money.
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