The development of teeth starts at the age of six weeks in the womb. By the time the mother is five months pregnant, all the 20 teeth would have already developed.
So, by the time a baby is born, all the 20 teeth are actually present under the gum, even though you do not see them. However, a few children are born with visible teeth.
A child being born with teeth, which we call natal teeth, is a fairly common occurrence and it occurs in one out of 1000 babies that are born. Also, one in 30,000 babies will develop their teeth within the first 30 days of life and these are referred to as neonatal teeth.
85 percent of all these teeth will occur on the baby’s lower jaw, 11 percent on the upper jaw while about 4 per cent will be on baby’s molars.
These teeth, especially those in the lower part of the mouth may end up injuring the baby’s gum, leading to sores and wounds. Also, if these teeth are mobile, they might interfere with the baby’s breastfeeding.
Another concern is that if the teeth that are present, are too sharp, they might cause injury to the mother’s nipples, which are at this time sensitive.
So, if your child is born with teeth, consult a dentist, who upon examination will recommend a number of things:
If the teeth are not well developed, are too mobile, causing inconvenience, or interfering with the baby’s breastfeeding, then they will be extracted. If they are not mobile, but they still interfere with the baby’s breastfeeding, they will be extracted.
Then, if they are well developed, but they are causing excessive damage to the baby’s tongue, and causing the baby sores and wounds, they are either extracted or smoothened.
Please note that in case of an extraction, you should not expect your baby to develop milk teeth from the area of extraction, because what has been removed is actual milk teeth. Instead, you should be patient until the age of about six years when your child develops replacement permanent teeth.
Also, this extraction must be done strictly by a professional dentist since at this age, these children have not developed the mechanism that stops bleeding after extraction. Usually, an injection to stop the bleeding is given. The extraction can also not be done until the baby is 10 days old.
Written by: Dr Emmanuel Amukun, a dental surgeon