Having extra teeth as a child is a relatively uncommon condition, but it does occasionally happen. The medical term for extra teeth is “supernumerary teeth.” While extra permanent teeth are rare, it’s more common for children to have additional baby teeth. Let’s take a closer look at why some kids end up with bonus chompers.
What causes extra teeth in kids?
There are a few different factors that can lead to extra teeth developing in children:
- Genetics – Some children inherit larger tooth buds or genetic conditions that increase tooth production.
- Environmental factors – Issues during pregnancy or early childhood may disrupt dental development.
- Underlying syndromes – Some syndromes or disorders are associated with extra teeth.
The most common cause is extra tooth buds forming during dental development in utero. Typically humans have 20 primary tooth buds and 32 permanent tooth buds that form before birth. But sometimes additional buds develop, leading to extra teeth.
Do extra teeth cause problems?
In most cases, a couple of extra baby teeth will not cause any major issues for a child. However, in some situations they may lead to complications such as:
- Delayed loss of primary teeth – Extra teeth can prevent normal teeth from falling out on schedule.
- Misalignment – Too many teeth can crowd the mouth and cause crooked/overlapped teeth.
- Difficulty feeding – Extra teeth may interfere with breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
- Speech development issues – Speech may be affected if tongue space is limited.
- Cheek/lip biting – Accidental biting can happen if teeth push on the soft tissue.
- Tooth decay risk – Crowded teeth can be hard to keep clean and are prone to cavities.
If a child has more than 2-3 extra teeth, it’s more likely they’ll experience problems. That’s why it’s recommended to have a pediatric dentist evaluate any excess teeth.
Should extra baby teeth be removed?
The decision on whether or not to remove extra baby teeth depends on several factors:
- Number of extra teeth – More than 3 likely requires removal.
- Positioning – Teeth badly impacted in bone or tissue should be removed.
- Symptoms – Any teeth causing feeding, speech or spacing issues are removed.
- Tooth integrity – Damaged or decayed extra teeth need removal.
Ideally, dentists like to wait until a child is around age 6 to remove teeth so the child can handle the procedure well. But earlier removal is sometimes necessary for symptom relief or spacing concerns. The dentist will numb the area before gently extracting the extra tooth.
Do extra adult teeth also occur?
It’s rare, but some people can have extra permanent teeth alongside their normal 32 adult teeth. According to research:
- Less than 1% of the population has extra permanent teeth.
- Males are affected more often than females.
- The lower jaw has more frequent extra teeth.
- Wisdom teeth are the most common type of extra tooth.
In one study looking at 22,000 dental patients:
- Only 0.15% had extra permanent teeth beyond third molars.
- Of those, 75% had just one additional tooth.
- The most common extra tooth was a fourth molar (67%).
While very rare, it’s possible for people to have several extra permanent teeth. One reported case was a 25 year old male with 14 supernumerary teeth!
Are genetic conditions linked to extra teeth?
There are some genetic syndromes and conditions associated with increased risk of extra teeth:
- Cleidocranial dysplasia – Causes abnormal development of bones and teeth. Extra baby and adult teeth are common.
- Gardner’s syndrome – Linked to multiple extra teeth, often between other teeth.
- Cleopterix syndrome – Associated with up to 32 extra adult teeth in addition to normal set.
- Williams syndrome – Connective tissue disorder that can cause excess permanent teeth.
- Hallermann Streiff syndrome – Linked to malformed tooth structure and supernumeraries.
There are also some hereditary conditions tied to extra teeth that get passed down in families. But most cases occur spontaneously without a known genetic cause.
Can you prevent extra teeth?
There is no known way to prevent extra teeth from developing prenatally or early in childhood. However, prompt evaluation and treatment from a pediatric dentist can help minimize problems. Here are some tips to manage extra teeth in your child:
- Get regular dental exams to stay ahead of issues.
- Follow dentist recommendations on timing of removal.
- Practice diligent oral hygiene to avoid decay in crowded teeth.
- Use spacers or other appliances as needed.
- Provide orthodontic treatment to align the bite.
While you can’t prevent the extra teeth themselves, good dental care provides the best chance for healthy development of your child’s smile.
What’s the best age to remove extra teeth?
Ideally, extraction should be done around age 6-7. This timing balances these factors:
- Kid is old enough to cooperate and handle procedure.
- Allows the permanent teeth to erupt in normal positions.
- Prevents too much crowding/misalignment.
However, earlier removal may be needed if the teeth cause significant issues like feeding problems, decay, or cysts. Later extraction can also be done, but may require orthodontic treatment to correct the bite.
Should I worry if my child has an extra tooth?
One or two extra baby teeth is typically not a major concern. But some key points for parents include:
- See a pediatric dentist around age 1 for evaluation.
- Monitor for any spacing, feeding or speech issues.
- Be vigilant about oral hygiene with crowded teeth.
- Have regular dental visits for extractions/treatment as needed.
- Consider extraction by age 6-7 to prevent problems.
With proper management, most kids do great with a couple of bonus teeth. But closely follow your dentist’s recommendations if more extractions or orthodontics are needed.
How are extra teeth extracted?
Extraction of extra teeth is usually a quick and simple pediatric dental procedure. Here is the typical process:
- Numbing medication is given in the area to prevent pain.
- Dentist loosens tooth from bone using instruments.
- Tooth is gently removed with forceps once loose.
- Some minor bleeding is common, controlled by pressure.
- The empty socket heals over the next week.
In some cases, severely impacted or malformed teeth may require oral surgery by an oral surgeon. But for most extra baby teeth, the gentle dentist extraction is quick and uncomplicated.
Do I need to take special care after extraction?
Caring for your child after a tooth extraction is pretty straightforward. Here are some tips for follow-up care:
- Use gauze to control bleeding for 20-30 minutes after procedure.
- Avoid hard, crunchy foods for a few days until healed.
- Rinse mouth gently with warm salt water after meals.
- Give soft foods for the first day until numbness wears off.
- Use ibuprofen/acetaminophen if needed for pain control.
- Call your dentist with any excessive bleeding, pain, or fever.
Most kids bounce back quickly after extraction, especially if only a single baby tooth is removed. But don’t hesitate to call your dentist with any concerns after the procedure.
Do extra teeth in kids require special orthodontic treatment?
Depending on the positioning, number, and stage of development, orthodontic treatment may be recommended for children with extra teeth. This can help guide eruption and prevent long term bite problems. Some examples include:
|Serial extraction||Strategic removal of certain teeth to guide eruption.|
|Palatal expander||Creates more room in upper jaw for crowded teeth.|
|Spacers||Holds space between teeth after extraction of extras.|
|Traditional braces||Aligns bite and improves aesthetics.|
Your child’s orthodontist will determine which appliances are needed based on the unique tooth scenario. The goal is to guide the teeth into good alignment for long term dental health and an attractive smile.
What problems can delayed extraction cause?
Allowing extra teeth to remain too long before extraction can sometimes lead to complications like:
- Increased crowding as more teeth erupt.
- Cysts forming around impacted wisdom teeth.
- Misalignment and bite problems.
- Higher decay risk in crowded teeth.
- Need for more complex orthodontic treatment.
- Periodontal disease later on.
That’s why following your dentist’s recommended timeframe for removal of extras is important to prevent issues down the road. Taking a proactive approach leads to the best outcome.
Can I pass extra teeth genetically to my children?
Although extra teeth sometimes run in families, it is not extremely common. Research shows:
- Only around 6% of children with extra teeth have a parent with extras.
- The inheritance pattern does not follow typical dominant/recessive patterns.
- Having extra teeth doesn’t necessarily mean your children will get them.
However, if you have a known genetic syndrome that caused your extra teeth, the chance your child inherits the condition is higher. Talk to a genetic counselor to understand your level of risk. But in many cases it occurs spontaneously, so try not to worry!
While not typical, some children can develop extra baby teeth beyond the normal 20 deciduous teeth. This may be caused by genetic factors, environmental disruption, or unknown causes. If caught early, monitoring by a dentist and timely extraction can prevent significant problems. With proper management, extra baby teeth are usually just a temporary childhood condition rather than a long term dental defect.