Natal Teeth - Types, Causes and Home Care

Baby Born With Natal Teeth

Teething usually happens within the first year of a baby’s birth. Babies commonly grow their first tooth when they are around 6 to 8 months old. But occasionally some babies may be born with one or two teeth called natal teeth. Although such an occurrence is not abnormal, it is certainly rare.

What Is Natal Teeth?

A baby laying on his stomach, smiling and showing its teeth

Teeth at the time of baby’s birth are called natal teeth. They are principally baby’s primary teeth that erupt prematurely. Natal teeth are also known as congenital teeth, foetal teeth, and precocious dentition. Usually, these teeth are not well-formed and can be either small, conical or regular, normal shaped. They can either be white or somewhat brownish-yellow.

Is It Normal for a Baby to Be Born With Natal Teeth?

Babies being born with natal teeth is a rare occurrence. It happens approximately in one out of every 2000-3000 babies. In fact, the incidence of babies being born with natal teeth is higher than babies growing neonatal teeth (teeth which erupt during the first month after birth), the ratio estimated around 3:1.

Types of Natal Teeth

There can be four types of natal teeth which are listed below:

  • Small-sized teeth which are beginning to develop from the gums
  • Loose teeth which are not well-formed and hardly have any root structures
  • Fully developed teeth with crowns attached to some root structures though still loose. Such teeth are also known as mature teeth.
  • A hint of a tooth just starting to appear through the gums

Some babies may be born with just one tooth present on the lower gum line. However, babies may also be born with two or more teeth emerging either from the lower or upper gum line although such incidences are even rarer. The occurrence of babies being born with molars as natal teeth are lower than 1 per cent.

What Are the Causes of Natal Teeth?

The manifestation of natal teeth in babies is commonly not linked to any medical disorder although a precise cause is not yet known. Nevertheless, in some cases, the occurrence of infant natal teeth can be ascribed to certain medicals conditions like Hallermann-Streiff Syndrome, Ellis-van Creveld Syndrome, Soto Syndrome, Pierre Robin Syndrome.

Sometimes babies with birth irregularities like cleft lip or dentin (a part of the tooth situated below the enamel) anomalies may have an increased probability rate of being born with natal teeth. Other contributing factors like malnutrition in pregnancy, trauma, the mother getting exposed to toxins during pregnancy, the infection may also become reasons for natal teeth in infants. The likelihood of developing natal teeth is higher in babies if their parents and siblings were also born with natal teeth.

How Common Are Natal Teeth & Where Do They Usually Occur?

Studies show that natal teeth are not a common occurrence. Some statistics indicate that natal teeth may occur in approximately 1 out of 6,000 babies. While other data shows that the number stands at about 1 out of 2,700 babies. The actual number may lie somewhere within the range of these figures. Although the role of gender is controversial, natal teeth seem to be a more common occurrence in females as compared to males. Natal teeth in babies may usually occur as:

  • Lower central incisors
  • Upper incisors
  • Lower molars and canines
  • Upper molars and canines

Complications Associated With Natal Teeth

Most doctors may propose the removal of natal teeth after a baby’s birth as there are certain complications associated with natal teeth like the following:

1. Breastfeeding issue

Babies with natal teeth can pose some complications during breastfeeding. The mother may find it painful to feed the baby as there is always the possibility that the baby may bite. Although a baby with natal teeth can be trained not to bite, it may take time to do so. In case this doesn’t happen, the mother may consider switching to bottle-feeding or a breast pump out of unease and pain. There can also be a likelihood of nursing mothers developing ulcers on the breasts because of the constant friction between the tender skin of the mother’s breast and the sharp natal teeth.

2. Natal teeth can cause ulcers on the tongue

There is also a probability that ulcers may develop underneath the baby’s tongue or the innermost side of the baby’s lower lip in case the natal teeth are sharp and continually rub against the soft tissue. Such a condition is called Riga-Fede Syndrome. The treatment may include evening out the natal teeth’s rough edges or protective covering for the teeth.

3. Natal teeth may cause a choking hazard

Natal teeth may become a choking hazard for the baby if they happen to fall off as they usually are not well-formed with almost no root structures and therefore loose.

Early Teething: What Is It?

Most babies start teething at the age of 6 to 8 months. Teeth which erupt within the first month of baby’s birth are called neonatal teeth. Sometimes babies can be early developers and may display signs of teething very early. Early teething can start at the age of 2 to 3 months. Although the baby may not grow his actual teeth till much later.

Homecare for Natal Teeth

It is important to keep the natal teeth hygienic. You can clean the natal teeth by wiping them gently with a moist, clean cloth. Also regularly examine the baby’s tongue and gums for any signs of ulcers or injury.

When Should You Consult a Doctor for Treatment?

The doctor upon examing the natal teeth may advise its removal in case the teeth seem loose or simply levelling the natal teeth to prevent any injury to the baby or mother while breastfeeding. You may also need medical treatment if the baby develops ulcers in his mouth.

You needn’t be alarmed if your baby is born with natal teeth. It is sensible to consult your doctor for addressing your concerns and taking guidance for timely treatment.

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