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Natal teeth are present at birth. (Photo © Sam Pullara/Flickr)

Babies are famous for their toothless, gummy grins, but some newborns can actually flash their pearly whites! Teeth that are present at birth, or natal teeth, happen in one out of every 2,000–3,000 births. Natal teeth have been documented over centuries and are usually not related to any medical condition.

Most babies get their first teeth — which typically erupt through the center, lower gums — at anywhere from 4 to 8 months old. Natal teeth develop there, too, but they have very loose roots and are attached to the gum only by soft tissue.

These teeth are frequently removed while the newborn is in the hospital. Your doctor will examine your baby to see if the teeth should be extracted. If they are loose, they could become a choking hazard. A wiggly tooth could easily be aspirated into your baby’s airway or lungs.

Natal teeth may become uncomfortable or even painful for the mother during breastfeeding. A nursing mother may choose instead to pump her breast milk until the tooth can be removed..

Sometimes natal teeth are sharp and can cause irritation, ulcers, or injury to your baby’s tongue. A pediatric dentist may be able to smooth away any sharp edges to resolve this.

If your baby’s natal teeth are not removed, keep them clean by wiping the teeth and gums every day with a clean cloth. Watch your baby’s mouth for any signs of cuts around the gums and tongue. If the teeth become loose, talk to your doctor about possible extraction. It’s also a good idea to follow up with a pediatric dentist, who can monitor the teeth as well as your baby’s general oral health.

Natal teeth are usually nothing to worry about. Your baby’s childhood and adult teeth should come in normally, but raise any concerns you may have with your pediatrician.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, August 2019

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References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Natal and neonatal teeth.
  2. National Institutes of Health. Natal health.

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