Sweet 16 & Still Waiting on the Tooth Fairy? A Parent’s Guide to Over-Retained Baby Teeth
Your child’s first tooth fell out right on time, and your whole family got excited about putting it under the pillow for the tooth fairy. Yet, now your teen has been waiting on their last tooth to fall out long enough for them to accumulate enough interest on their tooth fairy money to buy a car. All jokes aside, dealing with an over-retained baby tooth is no laughing matter. As you wait for it to hopefully fall out, here is what you should know about what a lingering baby tooth may mean for your child’s future smile.
Common Reasons for a Retained Baby Tooth
There are many reasons why a baby tooth may be slow to fall out or may not come out on its own at all. Some children simply lose their teeth at a slower rate than normal. If this is the case, then you may have noticed that their first adult tooth eruption came later than their peers. It is also possible that a permanent tooth never formed during your child’s early development. Without a tooth behind it, the primary tooth’s roots won’t dissolve and cause it to come loose.
Identifying the Cause
Typically, a tooth is considered to be late falling out when it is a year beyond the expected time for the adult tooth to arrive. Fortunately, determining the cause is relatively simple since a pediatric dentist can perform an oral exam and look at X-rays to see if an adult tooth is present. Once the dentist determines the cause, they can then assess your child’s overall mouth and teeth to develop the best options for treatment.
Determining the Best Course of Treatment
When your teen’s baby tooth is still hanging in there, your biggest fear may be an extraction. However, dentists tend to prefer to start with the most minimally invasive treatment as possible. Therefore, your dentist may take a wait-and-see approach if an adult tooth is present and the baby tooth is not causing problems. Alternatively, a baby tooth may be allowed to remain even if an adult tooth never formed provided that it can be kept free of decay and is aesthetically pleasing. In some instances, an extraction may be necessary to prevent crowding and other orthodontic issues from occurring.
The frustration of waiting for that last baby tooth to fall out is stressful when you do not know what is wrong. Fortunately, all it takes is a short visit to the pediatric dentist to figure out your plan of action. Whether you can leave it in place or are required to look into other options, knowing how to ensure your child has a beautiful smile will give you peace of mind.