Teeth in Newborns

Natal Tooth

A few times a year, I see a baby who is born with a tooth. If your baby has one of these "natal teeth," it is in the front on the bottom. If the tooth has broken through the gum, it can be a problem for both the baby and the mom.

The obvious problem is if your baby is breast fed. If the baby bites mom's nipple, it is painful and can cause bleeding. In this situation, the tooth needs to be removed right away. If it is very loose, the doctor may pull it out. Usually, the tooth is attached pretty firmly, and a pediatric dentist will need to remove it.

The danger to the baby is if the tooth falls out with no one noticing. The loose tooth can get trapped in the baby's windpipe. So, even if a baby is bottle fed, if the tooth is loose, it will need to be removed (just not as urgently as if the baby is breastfed). Sometimes, the tooth never cuts through the gums. It just goes away.

If a baby is born with a tooth, it is an extra tooth, and the regular baby teeth come in just fine.

Babies often have small white cysts on their gums or palate that are mistaken for teeth. Gum cysts are not hard and do not need any treatment.

Thanks to Janelle Aby MD, Stanford School Of Medicine, Newborn Nursery, and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital for the use of occasional photographs.