Who remembers the tooth fairy as a child? The excitement of losing a tooth so you could leave it under your pillow at night in exchange for a treat from the tooth fairy was one of the greatest joys of childhood.
Sometimes, a person doesn’t lose all of their baby teeth as a child. There are a few reasons that adults could still have baby teeth instead of permanent teeth. Read on to learn more about how this happens and what to do about it.
What Are Adult Baby Teeth?
Baby teeth, also called primary or milk teeth, usually fall out during adolescence to make room for permanent teeth. It’s actually quite common to experience adult baby teeth, or retained baby teeth.
For adults who don’t lose their primary teeth, it’s usually the second molars. Retaining primary second molars can reduce the risk of future dental complications. However, when the retained baby teeth are incisors or first molars, the individual may experience complications with permanent tooth development.
- Infraocclusion means the baby teeth remain fixed despite permanent teeth erupting around them.
- Occlusal trauma occurs when teeth don’t line up properly when the individual closes their mouth.
- Diastema refers to gaps or spaces between teeth.
Why Do Baby Teeth Remain?
Usually, when an adult has retained baby teeth, it’s because they don’t have permanent teeth to fill the space in their mouth. There are several conditions that affect the development of teeth:
- Hyperdontia, or extra teeth, means you don’t have enough room to accommodate permanent teeth.
- Hypodontia is the opposite and refers to people missing one to five permanent teeth.
- Oligodontia means you are missing six or more permanent teeth.
- Anodontia is missing the majority or all permanent teeth.
Additionally, some people may have permanent teeth that simply don’t erupt. All of these conditions can occur due to several factors.
- Ankylosis is a rare condition that affects the bones and causes teeth to fuse to the jawbone. The teeth can’t move at all, which means they never grow into position.
- Genetics can impact tooth development, so if your family has a history of missing teeth, you are more likely to follow in their footsteps.
- Certain physical conditions, like ectodermal dysplasia and endocrine disorders, can trigger problems with tooth development.
- Mouth trauma or certain types of infections can impact tooth development.
What Should I Do If I Still Have Baby Teeth as an Adult?
It depends on your situation. If the tooth is stable and healthy, you may be better off keeping the baby tooth. Your dentist will monitor the situation to make sure it remains stable and healthy. However, if there are issues with the tooth or concerns for your future oral health, additional treatment could help.
Orthodontics and Surgery
Some sort of modification may be required to maintain the baby tooth’s integrity and prevent additional issues as other teeth erupt around it. Orthodontics and prosthetics, like a modified cap over the tooth, are often successful.
There are two main reasons to remove the retained baby teeth. First, in cases with severe crowding that prevents straightening of the teeth. The other occurs when the primary tooth is too weak to keep in place.
If you have concerns about adult baby teeth, or know you’re due for a check-up and teeth cleaning, the team at Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics can help. Book an appointment with the office nearest you!