If you are a parent, then you likely understand that baby teeth fall out of your child's mouth to make room for the permanent adult teeth. This is something that happens in a specific sequence, and your family dentist can tell you exactly what this sequence is. When you ask the dentist, you should make sure that your son or daughter's teeth fall out in the correct order. If they do not, then your child has an issue called over-retained baby teeth. This can mean a few different things.
The Adult Tooth Has Not Formed
The baby teeth are small teeth that act as space savers to make sure that the adult teeth can come in later on. They form in the jaw and slowly push up on the baby teeth. The pressure causes the root of the baby tooth to break away, and the crown of the tooth then pops out of the gums as the adult tooth emerges. If an adult tooth does not develop for some reason, then the root of the baby tooth will not dissolve. The tooth will remain in the jaw and gums and will not loosen.
To determine whether or not the adult tooth is present or not, your child's dentist will need to complete and x-ray. The image will show if there is a tooth growing in the jaw. If there is no tooth present, then the baby tooth will be left in the mouth. Your child will likely need to go through orthodontic treatment later on. The baby tooth can be pulled, and the teeth can be moved to fill in the gap.
If there is too much space in the mouth for this type of treatment to be successful, a bridge may be added later on to fill in the space when the tooth is removed.
The Adult Tooth Is Stuck
During the x-ray imaging, your child's dentist may learn that the adult tooth is present in the jaw. However, the tooth may be stuck and unable to emerge. This can happen for a few different reasons. The tooth may be stuck underneath the adjacent tooth, or the forming adult tooth may have attached itself to the jawbone in the region. A tooth that has merged with the jaw is the most common reason for the issue.
A minor surgery may be needed to cut the tooth free from the jaw. This will allow the tooth to emerge naturally on its own. Surgical procedures may or may not require the removal of the baby tooth first. If it does, then a space saver may be secured in the region until the tooth does emerge.