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When Is Baby Tooth Extraction Necessary? 5 Things to Know

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family-brushing-teeth-507329675Baby teeth, also called your primary teeth, are intended to fall out to make way for adult teeth. Sometimes baby teeth don’t come out on their own. When this happens, it is called “over-retained” or just “retained” baby teeth. Baby tooth extraction may be necessary for retained teeth. Our expert team at San Tan Oral Surgery in Gilbert, AZ can evaluate your retained primary teeth and advise you on the best treatment.

When Is Baby Tooth Extraction Necessary? 5 Things to Know

When everything proceeds as it should, your adult teeth will push out your baby teeth as they erupt. Your body has already absorbed your primary tooth’s root so the permanent tooth can grow in smoothly with proper alignment. However, there are cases where baby teeth are retained.

The most common reason for retained baby teeth is that the adult tooth in that spot is absent. Other possible reasons for retained primary teeth include misalignment of the adult tooth below, a trauma, an infection, or just a delayed eruption of the adult tooth. In some cases, retained teeth may be left in place; in others, baby tooth extraction will be necessary.

1. How Common Are Retained Baby Teeth?
Retaining your primary teeth beyond when they would usually be replaced by adult teeth is relatively common. Although it is rare not to have all of your baby teeth, missing a permanent tooth that would otherwise have pushed out the primary tooth is fairly commonplace.

We don’t really understand why some people are missing adult teeth, but there is definitely a genetic component. The most likely permanent tooth to be missing is your second molar.

2. What Are the Risks With Retained Baby Teeth?
Retained baby teeth can cause problems. It’s much harder to properly clean your teeth when they aren’t aligned. Tooth decay is an increased risk with retained baby teeth. Tooth decay can develop into serious periodontal disease like an abscessed tooth or an infection around the gum line or in the bone. A retained tooth at the front of your mouth can also impact your beautiful smile!

Retained baby teeth can also cause the adjacent adult teeth to start to tilt inwards with nothing to hold them in place on that side. As other teeth continue to erupt, your retained baby teeth can change the structure of your bite. If you have a retained molar, your wisdom teeth may not be able to erupt properly. Impacted wisdom teeth happen when they can’t erupt through the gum and instead grow sideways in the jaw.

3. How Do We Determine the Best Treatment?
If you have a retained baby tooth, the first step will be to do a comprehensive exam, including dental x-rays. This will allow our team to see what is going on below the gumline. Once we can see the tooth from all angles, we will be able to come up with the right plan for your treatment and determine whether you require baby tooth extraction.

4. When Is Extraction Necessary?
In cases of hyperdontia, you have retained baby teeth as well as the adult teeth in the same spot. There are extra teeth crowding your mouth. We may need to remove your retained baby teeth to be able to straighten your adult teeth. Retained baby teeth can also be the result of ankylosis. Ankylosis is a fusion of the tooth to the jaw bone. The tooth is no longer able to move because the protective periodontal ligament is gone. Ankylosed teeth must be extracted.

If your retained baby teeth are unhealthy, they may need to be replaced. For example, if the roots have resorbed, the tooth is no longer structurally sound. An implant is often the preferred treatment, although some patients are treated with partial dentures. If your retained baby tooth is blocking the way for the permanent tooth below, it will need to be removed. Our team will discuss the options and determine the best treatment for you.

5. Is Treatment Required if the Tooth Is Not Extracted?
If the retained baby tooth is structurally sound and aesthetically acceptable, and there is no adult tooth waiting to erupt, then the primary tooth may be left in place. Retained teeth may not cause problems until later in life. Strong, healthy baby teeth with good alignment may continue to function well until you are in your 40s. At this time, they will begin to deteriorate and will need treatment.

If the root and crown structure of the retained tooth is sound, there may still be treatment required. The tooth may not be properly aligned with the adult teeth, in which case it will need to be reshaped. A bridge or implant may be necessary both to protect the neighboring teeth and preserve your beautiful smile.

What to Do if You Have Retained Baby Teeth

Often a general dental practitioner will be the first to identify retained teeth. A dental specialist is the best person to determine what treatment is right for you. There are many different possible causes for retained teeth and many options for treatment. Each case will be unique, and the right treatment will depend on both the health of your teeth and your own preferences.

Make an appointment today to speak with one of our caring and expert team members at San Tan Oral Surgery in Gilbert, AZ to learn what the best course of action is for your retained tooth.
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