Shark Teeth: When Should You Worry?


As a parent, you may find yourself a little alarmed when your child’s permanent teeth begin to erupt behind their baby teeth, creating a somewhat menacing double row – much like a shark! This condition, playfully termed “shark teeth,” is surprisingly common in kids. But should you be worried? Leading dental health specialists reveal that shark teeth occur when the permanent teeth begin to come in before the baby teeth have fallen out.

So, if you’re in Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Hansville, Port Townsend, and surrounding areas and are concerned about shark teeth in children, you’re at the right place. In this blog post by Dentistry For Children, we’ll explore the causes, signs, and potential treatments for shark teeth in children, empowering you to make informed decisions about your child’s oral health.

What Are Shark Teeth?

Shark teeth, medically known as mesiodens, refer to the presence of extra teeth that erupt behind or in between the primary (baby) teeth. These supernumerary teeth can cause a variety of concerns, including:

1. Discomfort or pain:

This double row of teeth can pressure surrounding teeth and gums, causing discomfort or even pain.

2. Impacted permanent teeth:

Shark teeth can block the eruption path of permanent teeth, leading to impaction and potential orthodontic issues, including misaligned or crowded teeth.

3. Increased risk of cavities and gum disease:

The extra teeth can make it more difficult to maintain proper oral hygiene, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

Causes of Shark Teeth in Children

Several factors can contribute to the development of shark teeth in children:

1. Delayed loss of baby teeth:

In some cases, baby teeth may not loosen and fall out naturally when permanent teeth are ready to erupt. This can cause permanent teeth to erupt behind the baby teeth, causing an uncomfortable double row of teeth.

2. Crowding of teeth:

Sometimes, there simply isn’t enough space in the jaw for all the permanent teeth to erupt in normal positions. This dental crowding in children can cause extra teeth to erupt out of place.

3. Genetic factors:

Studies have shown that genetics can play a role in the development of extra teeth.

Signs and Symptoms of Shark Teeth

The most obvious sign of shark teeth in kids is the presence of a double row of teeth in the front of the mouth. However, there may be other signs as well, including:

  • Double row of teeth
  • Potential discomfort or pain in the gums or teeth
  • Difficulty with normal tooth eruption of permanent teeth

How Common Are Shark Teeth in Kids?

The exact prevalence of shark teeth in children is unknown, but estimates suggest it occurs in up to 3% of children. This means it’s a relatively common occurrence and shouldn’t be a cause for immediate alarm.

However, staying vigilant and consulting with a reputed child dental health specialist like Dentistry For Children can help address any potential issues quickly and effectively. Feel free to reach out to our team at (360) 377-3844(Bremerton) or (360) 876-9507(Port Orchard).

When to Worry About Shark Teeth

There are instances when a “shark tooth” is a good reason for a dental visit. Think about three things … time, place, and discomfort.

1. Time

If the baby tooth doesn’t get wiggly and simply won’t budge within two months, it may be time for a wiggle appointment so we can help that little guy along. Even then, if your child’s other teeth have been stubborn about coming loose in the past, this one might just follow suit.

2. Place

Are your child’s shark teeth coming in behind the molars? This might cause crowding issues, and if your kiddo hasn’t seen an orthodontist yet, now might be the time. Speak to your dentist about the possibility of an ortho consult.

3. Discomfort

If a shark tooth is causing your child pain or discomfort beyond just the normal “it hurts when it wiggles,” it’s a good idea to give us a call. Whether we can give advice on foods that often help this wiggly tooth along (apples! apples! apples!), over-the-counter pain medications to help with pain and inflammation, or simply set up an appointment to take a look ourselves, we’re happy to help when it comes to our patients and their discomforts.

Potential Complications of Shark Teeth

If left untreated, shark teeth can lead to several complications, including:

1. Impact on dental alignment:

As mentioned earlier, this extra double row of teeth can cause permanent teeth to erupt out of place, leading to misalignment and the need for braces or other orthodontic treatment.

2. Risk of cavities and gum issues:

The extra teeth can make it more difficult to clean them effectively, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.

3. Long-term dental health concerns:

Experts at Dentistry For Children reveal that shark teeth in kids can contribute to more serious dental problems, like tooth loss, if left unaddressed.

How to Fix Shark Teeth in Children

The best course of treatment for shark teeth in children will depend on the individual child’s situation. Here are two main approaches:

1. Waiting it out:

In some cases, particularly when the baby teeth are loose and wiggly, it may be best to wait for them to fall out naturally simply. Once the baby teeth are gone, the permanent teeth may erupt into their proper positions without intervention.

2. Professional dental intervention:

A dentist may recommend professional intervention if the baby’s teeth are not loose, the extra teeth are causing problems, or permanent teeth appear impacted. This could involve:

  • Tooth extraction: In some cases, the dentist may recommend removing the extra teeth to create space for the permanent teeth to erupt properly.
  • Orthodontic evaluation: If the shark teeth are causing misalignment or there’s a concern about future crowding, a dentist may recommend an orthodontic evaluation. An orthodontist can assess the situation and determine if braces or other orthodontic treatments are necessary to achieve proper tooth alignment.

Home Care Tips While Waiting for an Appointment

Even if you’re waiting for a dental appointment to address your child’s shark teeth, there are some things you can do at home to promote good oral health:

1. Maintain a consistent brushing and flossing routine:

Brushing twice daily and flossing once daily is crucial for removing plaque and bacteria, even around the extra teeth. Make sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and age-appropriate toothpaste.

2. Encourage gentle manipulation of loose baby teeth:

If they are somewhat loose, gently wiggle them with a clean finger to help them fall out naturally.

3. Monitor for any signs of discomfort:

Pay attention to your child’s behavior and be mindful of any discomfort or pain they might experience.

Preventive Measures

While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent shark teeth in kids, focusing on good oral hygiene habits from a young age can help promote healthy tooth development. Here are some tips:

1. Schedule regular dental check-ups:

Taking your child to the dentist for regular dental check-ups and cleanings allows for early detection of any potential issues, including shark teeth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends a child’s first dental visit by their first birthday, followed by regular check-ups every six months.

2. Maintain a healthy diet:

Limiting sugary foods and drinks can help prevent cavities, sometimes leading to delayed tooth loss and crowding.

3. Encourage good oral hygiene habits:

As mentioned earlier, instilling good brushing and flossing habits from an early age is vital for establishing a foundation of healthy oral care.

When Should You Call the Dentist?

That’s a great question, and the real answer is “any time you are concerned about your child’s dental health.” Really! We’re glad you’re playing an active role in caring for your kid’s teeth, and we’re happy to answer your questions and schedule an appointment if necessary!

Furthermore, here are some specific situations that warrant a call to the dentist:

  • The baby’s teeth are not loose, and the child is over eight years old.
  • The extra teeth are causing discomfort or pain.
  • There are signs of difficulty eating or speaking.
  • Permanent teeth appear impacted or unable to erupt.
  • If you have any concerns about your child’s oral health.

For professional help, please feel free to reach out to the child dental health experts at Dentistry For Children.

Final Takeaway

Shark teeth, while slightly alarming at first glance, are a relatively common occurrence in children. By understanding the causes, signs, and treatment options, you can feel empowered to make informed decisions about your child’s oral health. Remember, early intervention is key to preventing complications.

If you have any concerns about your child’s shark teeth, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with the friendly and experienced pediatric dentists at Dentistry For Children. We serve families throughout Kitsap County, including Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Hansville, Silverdale, Belfair, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Kingston, Port Townsend, Port Hadlock, Port Ludlow, Seabeck, Gig Harbor, and surrounding areas. We offer a welcoming environment and prioritize gentle, compassionate care for your child’s smile. Contact us at (360) 377-3844(Bremerton) or (360) 876-9507(Port Orchard) today to schedule an appointment!