Shark teeth may seem concerning because they’re different from what most parents expect to see in their child’s tooth development, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong or harmful going on. Read on in this blog from We Care Dental Care to find out how to identify shark teeth and understand how you should respond.
Shark teeth are permanent teeth that erupt behind the row of primary teeth because the primary teeth have failed to fall out when they were supposed to. Since this resembles how sharks develop multiple rows of teeth behind one another, they have earned the nickname “shark teeth”.
While this is not necessarily normal tooth development, it does happen in about 10% of children and isn’t any cause for concern.
The reason your child’s primary teeth may not have fallen out on time is that there was a problem with the roots of their teeth dissolving. How a child’s primary teeth fall out normally involves the roots of the teeth becoming dissolved so they become loose in the socket and easily fall out. If these roots never dissolve, the teeth won’t fall out.
Then, when the adult teeth are due to erupt, the primary teeth are still blocking the portion of the gums they are supposed to erupt through, which forces them to erupt behind these teeth. Another reason these teeth may erupt behind the primary teeth is that they developed at an angle rather than straight up through the gums.
Most children who develop shark teeth are at the highest risk for developing them around the age of 6 and 12. This is when the first and second permanent molars are due to come through. However, shark teeth can develop at any age that the permanent teeth are erupting and anywhere in the mouth.
Your child does not necessarily need a tooth extraction. This depends on when they developed their shark teeth and if their primary teeth are due to fall out. If your child’s primary teeth have been around far past when they should have fallen out, it is likely they will need an extraction.
However, if these teeth are loose enough to wiggle, your child is usually able to wiggle the tooth until it’s loose enough to fall out on its own. In this case, no dental intervention is needed. If your child’s shark teeth have caused severe gum recession, we may need to extract the primary teeth to prevent the need for gum grafts when they are older.
If an extraction is necessary, we’ll ensure your child is as comfortable as possible. A local anesthetic will numb their mouth so they don’t feel any pain and additional sedation can be used to help them feel relaxed. If your child is nervous about having an extraction, you can leave it up to us to help explain how simple the process is in terms that a child can understand.