From ages 5 to 7, children will begin the developmental stage of getting their permanent (adult) teeth. When permanent teeth come in, they will dissolve the root of the primary, or baby, tooth as it erupts, causing the baby tooth to become wiggly and fall out naturally. However, within this developmental stage some can have complications that progress into shark teeth.
What is Ectopic Eruption or ‘Shark Teeth’?
The term ‘Shark Teeth’, also known as ectopic eruption, originates from the fact that sharks have 5 to 15 rows of teeth in each jaw. Actual shark teeth do not have roots, do not develop cavities, and are replaced very quickly! In children, this is not the case. This condition can be identified when an adult tooth comes in behind a baby tooth that has not yet fallen out therefore forming a second row of teeth. This occurrence happens when baby tooth roots fail to dissolve and adult teeth are forced to erupt behind the baby teeth due to lack of space.
There are a few places where shark teeth can develop. Ectopic Eruption can occur in the lower (front teeth) incisors; they are more common in the lower front teeth but can also occur anywhere else in the mouth such as in the upper molars.
What happens as a result of Shark Teeth?
If not taken care of, a few things can occur as a result of Ectopic Eruption, such as crowding. Depending on how much the adult teeth are deflected behind the baby teeth, a child may qualify for orthodontic treatment to effectively correct the crowding. Crowding can cause other complications. Gum disease and recession have a potential risk of developing due to the difficulty of cleaning in between crowded teeth.
If your child has shark teeth, do not panic! This is fairly common in children, and sometimes can go away on its own. Baby teeth can become wiggly and exfoliate naturally. After the baby teeth fall out, the adult teeth will move from the second row and correct their position on their own.
What should I do if my child has Shark Teeth?
If your child’s permanent teeth are not erupting correctly, having them evaluated by a pediatric dentist may be a good idea. A pediatric dentist can monitor the development of your child’s teeth
and create a plan of action as a result of their findings. Pediatric dentists may suggest waiting until the baby teeth fall out naturally or will recommend extraction of the problematic teeth to avoid any further complications shark teeth may have created.