What Happens To Over-Retained Baby Teeth?

If you have been following the various growth charts that are given to you by your pediatric dentist, then you may notice that the teeth are meant to pop through the gums on a regular schedule. And, while tooth development may be delayed for some reason, you should still see the teeth emerging in order. If they do not, then your child may be experiencing something called an over-retained primary tooth. Keep reading to learn why this happens and what your dentist will do about it.

What Is An Over-Retained Primary Tooth?

An over-retained primary tooth is a baby tooth that remains firmly in the mouth much longer than it should. This means that the adult tooth that sits beneath the baby one has not started to move upward. The upward movement is what forces pressure against the baby root and causes disintegration so that it can fall from the mouth. So, the issue is usually not due to the stubbornness of the baby tooth, but the lack of formation and movement of the adult tooth. 

Conversely, the retention may be a problem with a permanent tooth that is completely missing. In other words, there is no adult tooth to replace the baby one so there is no reason for the primary tooth to fall out. 

Over-retention is an issue that your dentist is likely to consider when the primary tooth remains in the jaw for about a year longer than it should.

What Can Be Done About Over-Retention?

Over-retention can be addressed in several different ways. And, one of the more common treatments is to do nothing at all. This means that baby tooth can be left in place as the permanent tooth. This is an option if the adult tooth is not present in the jaw and if the tooth is relatively large and aesthetically appealing. 

If the adult tooth is not present and the mouth is crowded, then the primary tooth may be extracted. This usually requires a consultation with an orthodontist so that a plan can be formulated to ensure proper dental alignment. 

If the adult tooth is located in the jaw, then the dentist will look to see why the tooth has not emerged. X-rays help to determine if the tooth has fully formed. If it has, then the position and angle of the tooth are considered and the dentist may schedule a surgical procedure to cut the jaw away from the tooth so it can emerge on its own.