What Happens When a Baby Tooth Doesn't Want to Fall Out?

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It's the destiny of baby teeth to be pushed out of the gums and replaced with their adult counterparts, much like how a tree sheds its leaves in autumn, only to replace them in spring. Actually, it would be nice if you could grow a new set of teeth each year like the leaves on a tree, wouldn't it? You wouldn't even have to worry that much about cavities and whitening. But the loss of a baby tooth and the eruption of an adult tooth is the natural order of things. And yet, what about when one (or more) of your child's baby teeth doesn't want to follow this natural order? Do you need to worry when baby teeth want to stay exactly where they are?

Don't Be Concerned

Firstly, you don't need to worry, although this doesn't mean that no further action will ever be required. The root structure of baby teeth is more shallow and less dense than that of adult teeth, and this root structure is dissolved as the adult tooth begins to grow upwards. The baby tooth is literally pushed out of its spot. In some instances, the adult tooth doesn't form at all, so the baby tooth (and its root structure) is left intact.

Visit the Dentist

The care and maintenance of baby teeth and their eventual replacement by adult teeth is a core component of children's dentistry, so if you should feel that a baby tooth is hanging around much longer than should be expected, a visit to the dentist is in order. Your dentist will take an X-ray to confirm whether or not the adult tooth is absent. But what happens if there is no adult tooth waiting to emerge?

Possible Next Steps

There is no risk in leaving a baby tooth intact, although there can be some drawbacks. While there is some uniformity to teeth, there are still some differences from person to person. If your child's adult teeth aren't overly large (and this is the case with many people), the aesthetic differences will be minor. These differences are only going to be obvious if the tooth in question is an outward-facing incisor. The shallow root structure of the baby tooth could become an issue, in that it might not be able to withstand the test of time as an adult tooth can. This means that replacement might become necessary in the future, and this would require a dental implant. The baby tooth would simply become loose before falling out or being extracted. 

It's really not a big deal if a baby tooth seems to be comfortable where it is, but you should still visit a children's dentistry to check whether the adult tooth is merely late to the party or has decided not to show up at all.