Derek Dean, DDS, MS
Glen Dean, DDS
Grant Butler, DMD

Why Do Some Baby Teeth Never Fall Out?

Blonde little girl missing her 2 front baby teeth smiles while wearing overalls against a blue background

Do you remember when you lost your very last baby tooth? Believe it or not, some people retain them into adulthood. Read on to learn about baby teeth and what to do if you still have one as an adult.

All About Baby Teeth

Baby teeth (also known as milk teeth, deciduous teeth, and temporary teeth) usually have started to emerge by the time a child is one year old. By age three, kiddos should have 20 baby teeth. Smaller and whiter than adult teeth, baby teeth are essential placeholders for the next set of teeth (called adult teeth or permanent teeth) and allow children to learn how to eat and speak properly. Maintaining the health of baby teeth, even though they are temporary, teaches children the importance of daily oral hygiene and allows for a smooth transition to a healthy permanent set. Around five to seven years old, kids begin losing their baby teeth, with 28 adult teeth replacing them by age 13. But in rare cases, one baby tooth or even a few teeth decide to hang around.

Why Some Adults Still Have Baby Teeth

When a baby tooth falls out, it makes room for the permanent tooth that will take its place. However, there are a couple of reasons why a baby tooth might not budge. Examples include: a missing permanent tooth that simply never developed; crowding in the mouth that causes the permanent tooth to get stuck and never erupt to take the place of the baby tooth; or a baby tooth that remains attached to the jawbone.

What to Do If You Still Have a Baby Tooth as an Adult

In many cases, a retained baby tooth functions similarly to a permanent tooth and there is no cause for concern. On the other hand, a baby tooth’s difference in size from its neighboring adult teeth can cause difficulty chewing and biting, or its thinner enamel can put you at greater risk for tooth decay, cavities, and infection. In these instances, treatment options are available–including reshaping the tooth or extraction and replacement with a realistic-looking dental implant.

Consult with Our Expert Team!

If you or someone in your family has retained a baby tooth into adulthood, just remember to keep an eye on it. Here at Ruby Canyon Dental, we’ll be sure to let you know if anything looks amiss so you can maintain optimal oral health. Contact us today to schedule your next checkup.

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