Shark Teeth in Kids | Causes and Treatment

Shark teeth in kids is an unusual but generally non-threatening condition that may occur in some children. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s easy to spot when it does, thanks to a “shark-like” tooth appearance!

Do you think your child has shark teeth? We’ve summarised how to identify shark teeth, information on what to do, and how to look after your child’s dental health so there are no complications.

What are Shark Teeth in Kids? Understanding Ectopic Eruption

Shark teeth, also known as ectopic eruption, occur when a child’s permanent teeth begin to come in (erupt) behind their baby teeth, before the baby teeth have fallen out. This “double teeth” result can sometimes look a bit like a shark’s mouth, with two rows of teeth!

Shark Teeth in KidsWhat Causes Shark Teeth in Kids?

There are a few reasons why shark teeth can happen:

  • Permanent tooth erupting at an angle: The permanent tooth might grow at the wrong angle, causing it to push up behind the baby tooth.
  • Root dissolution: Baby teeth have roots that naturally dissolve as the permanent teeth come in. But sometimes they don’t dissolve as they should, which can prevent the baby teeth from falling out.
  • Insufficient space in the jaw for adult teeth: A child’s jaw might not have enough space to comfortably fit all their permanent teeth. This can lead to crowding and unusual eruption patterns.

Risk Factors for Shark Teeth

Risk Factors for Shark TeethShark Teeth Risk FactorsThere are a few factors that might increase the chance of a child developing shark teeth:

  • Genetic influences: If there’s a history of shark teeth in the family, a child may be more likely to experience it as well.
  • Delayed permanent tooth eruption: When permanent teeth come in later than expected, there’s more time for misalignment to occur.
  • Abnormalities in tooth development: If there are any unusual developments or delays in how a child’s teeth are forming, these might lead to shark teeth.

Which Teeth are Most Commonly Affected by Shark Teeth?

Shark teeth appear in different parts of the mouth, but here’s where they are most frequently seen:

  • Lower incisors: These are the most common locations for shark teeth to appear.
  • Upper incisors: The upper front teeth can also be affected, although less often than the lower incisors.
  • Back molars: Occasionally, the back molars can also erupt in a shark tooth pattern.

At What Age Do Shark Teeth Usually Emerge?

There are two typical periods when shark teeth might appear. The first is between ages 5 and 7, when the lower front permanent teeth usually begin to erupt. The second period is around age 11 to 12, when the upper back molars tend to come in.

What Are the Symptoms of Shark Teeth in Kids?

In most cases, shark teeth don’t cause any noticeable symptoms. Your child might not even be aware of the extra teeth! However, some children can experience mild discomfort or irritation where the new tooth pushes against the baby tooth or the surrounding gum tissue.

What Are the Treatment Options for Shark Teeth?

In many cases, shark teeth resolve on their own without intervention. The baby teeth will eventually loosen and fall out naturally, allowing the permanent tooth to shift into the correct position.

However, if the baby teeth remain firmly in place or cause discomfort, you should book a consultation with a paediatric dentist. The dentist can assess the situation and may recommend extracting the stubborn baby tooth to allow the permanent tooth to erupt properly.

In rare cases with severe misalignment or crowding caused by shark teeth, orthodontic treatment might be necessary to achieve proper tooth positioning.

How Parents Can Manage Shark Teeth at Home

How Parents Can Manage Shark Teeth at HomeHow to Manage Shark Teeth at HomeWhile shark teeth often don’t require extensive intervention, there are ways parents can help manage the situation at home.

Encourage Gentle Wiggling

If the baby teeth are loose but not falling out quickly, parents can encourage their child to gently wiggle the teeth. This can help speed up the natural process of the teeth coming out. Ensure that your child uses clean fingers or a clean tissue to avoid introducing bacteria into the mouth.

Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene Practices

Good dental hygiene is crucial, especially when there are two rows of teeth. This can be challenging because the new teeth can partially block the old ones, making brushing and flossing difficult.

Parents should supervise and assist their children in brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Use a fluoride toothpaste to protect against cavities.

Monitor the Teeth Closely

Regular monitoring of your child’s teeth is important. Ensure that the permanent teeth are not being obstructed or coming in misaligned because of the baby teeth.

Soft Food Diet

If your child experiences discomfort from the emerging teeth or from wiggling the baby teeth, a diet of soft foods can help alleviate pain. Foods like yoghurt, smoothies, soups, and mashed vegetables require less chewing, which will reduce discomfort.

Consultation with a Paediatric Dentist

While these at-home strategies can be effective, it’s important for parents to consult with a paediatric dentist. The dentist can offer professional advice, assist in removing stubborn baby teeth if necessary, and check for any potential issues with alignment that could require early orthodontic intervention.

When Should Kids See a Dentist for Shark Teeth?

While many cases of shark teeth are harmless, there are instances where you should visit the dentist:

  • Baby teeth remain firmly in place: If a baby tooth remains in place and doesn’t show signs of loosening, even with the permanent teeth behind milk teeth, a consultation with your dentist is a good idea.
  • Your child is experiencing pain or discomfort: Discomfort or pain from a tooth growing out of alignment requires evaluation by a dentist.
  • Permanent tooth reaching the height of the baby tooth: This indicates the baby tooth is not likely to fall out on its own. A dentist can decide if intervention is needed.
  • Concerns about tooth alignment or crowding: If you have worries about potential crowding or how shark teeth might affect your child’s smile, a dentist can provide an assessment and offer guidance.

Can Shark Teeth Cause Complications If Untreated?

Can Shark Teeth Cause Complications If UntreatedWhile many cases of shark teeth resolve naturally, there’s a chance of complications developing if the condition is left untreated for too long. These include:

  • Crowding and misalignment of permanent teeth: Shark teeth can cause permanent teeth to erupt out of position, leading to crooked or crowded smiles.
  • Difficulty maintaining oral hygiene: The unusual placement of teeth on teeth can make brushing and flossing more challenging.
  • Increased risk of cavities: It’s easier for food particles and plaque to get trapped in a “double tooth”, which increases the risk of tooth decay.
  • Potential speech difficulties: In rare, severe cases, misaligned teeth caused by shark teeth might affect how a child pronounces certain sounds.

Shark Teeth in Kids FAQs

Can you prevent shark teeth in kids?

No, unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed way to prevent shark teeth in kids. Sometimes they develop due to factors like genetics, delayed tooth eruption, or insufficient space in the jaw, which are beyond a parent’s control. However, maintaining good oral hygiene and having regular dental check-ups can help identify and address shark teeth early. This will minimise the risk of complications.

Will shark teeth straighten?

Yes, shark human teeth often straighten out on their own! In many cases, the baby tooth will loosen naturally and fall out as the permanent tooth continues to erupt. This allows the permanent tooth to shift into the correct position. However, with milk teeth not falling out or causing discomfort, a dentist may recommend gentle removal to allow the permanent tooth to erupt properly.

How common are shark teeth in kids?

While they might look distressing, shark teeth occur in around 10% of children.


Back to top: Shark Teeth in Kids