My little guy is eight days old. He’s my third and I’m worried that something isn’t “right.” Nursing has been difficult, so I took a look in his mouth and noticed he has a weird bump on his gums. It protrudes and kind of looks like a tooth but doesn’t feel firm like one.
Is it possible he already has a tooth? And if so, is it better to contract his pediatrician or should we have a pediatric dentist evaluate it?
These are great questions. You should have him checked out by his pediatrician right away, but here’s a quick breakdown of what’s likely happening and what to expect.
Yes, Babies Can Have Teeth
When a baby is born with a tooth, it’s referred to as a natal tooth. When a tooth emerges in the first month of a baby’s life, it’s called a neonatal tooth. They’re not common. Studies place the prevalence anywhere from about one in 21 to one in 30,000, though most seem to point to about one in 3,000 babies experiencing one of these conditions.
Natal and Neonatal Teeth Can Be Problematic
Sometimes a tooth that emerges early like this is a normal and healthy primary tooth that the child will carry until the natural exfoliation phase when the adult tooth comes in. More often than not, though, these teeth don’t develop quite right. They may have defects, lack roots to hold them in place, or not even be fully formed.
Based on your description, it sounds like your son’s tooth is loose, which means it’s a choking hazard and could explain the difficulties you’ve had with breastfeeding.
It’s important to note that any parent who observes similar symptoms in their baby, be it a tooth-like protrusion or discoloration of the gums, should have it checked out. Even if it’s not symptomatic or causing feeding issues, it could still become a problem. For example, it may have malformed roots and start out firm, but then loosen as the baby’s mouth grows because it’s not anchored well enough. They can be fragile or break too. You don’t want to wait until these issues emerge, so always consult a doctor as soon as you notice it.
Talk with the Pediatrician First
Because your son isn’t getting the nourishment he needs, it’s important to connect with your pediatrician first. You’re already established with the practice, so hopefully they’ll get you a same-day appointment.
You May Need a Pediatric Dentist Too
Natal and neonatal teeth are usually extracted by a pediatric dentist. Babies generally respond quite well to this, in part because these aren’t like adult teeth with large roots, and in part because the teeth can be uncomfortable, which often results in difficulty eating and sleeping.
If your family is already established with a pediatric dentist, they might be able to handle this right away for you too. It’s not wrong to start with a pediatric dentist. However, since this may not be a natal or neonatal tooth and requires diagnosis, plus you’ll have to address immediate nutrition, starting with the pediatrician makes more sense.
Best to you and your new bundle of joy!
This blog is sponsored by Auburn, AL dentist, Dr. Raymond Bolt.