Natal teeth are teeth that are already present at the time of birth. They are different from neonatal teeth, which grow in during the first 30 days after birth.
Natal teeth are relatively uncommon, appearing in about one in every 2,000 to 3,000 births. Although most natal teeth are isolated incidents, their presence may be associated with certain medical syndromes.
Natal teeth generally develop on the lower gum, where the central incisor teeth will appear. They have little root structure and are attached to the end of the gum by soft tissue and are often wobbly.
Natal teeth are usually not well formed, but they are firm enough that, because of their placement, they may cause irritation and injury to the infant's tongue when nursing. Natal teeth may also be uncomfortable for a nursing mother.
Frequently, natal teeth are removed shortly after birth while the newborn infant is still in the hospital, especially if the tooth is loose and the child runs a risk of aspiration, or "breathing in" the tooth.
Most of the time, natal teeth are not related to a medical condition. However, sometimes they may be associated with:
If the teeth are not removed, keep them clean by gently wiping the gums and teeth with a clean, damp cloth. Examine the infant's gums and tongue frequently to make sure the teeth are not causing injury.
Call your health care provider if
Call your doctor if an infant with natal teeth develops a sore tongue or mouth or other symptoms.
What to expect at your health care provider's office
This finding is usually discovered by the health care provider during the initial examination of the infant, and often no further documentation is needed other than just to note that there were teeth present at birth.
Dental x-rays may be considered. If there are signs of any condition that can be associated with natal teeth, examination and testing for that condition will be performed.
Paul Fotek, DMD, Florida Institute for Periodontics & Dental lmplants, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.