Neonatal teeth

Alternative names 
Fetal teeth; Natal teeth

Definition
Natal teeth already present at the time of birth; neonatal teeth erupt during the first 30 days after birth.

Considerations

Natal teeth are relatively uncommon, appearing in about one in every 2,000 to 3,000 births. Although the majority of natal teeth are isolated incidents, their presence may be associated with some syndromes.

Natal teeth generally develop on the lower gum where the central incisors will be. They have little root structure and are attached to the margin of the gum by soft tissue and are often wobbly.

Natal teeth are usually not well formed but they are firm enough that, because of their placement, they may cause irritation and trauma to the infant’s tongue while he is nursing. Natal teeth may also be uncomfortable for a nursing mother.

Frequently, natal teeth are removed shortly after birth while the newborn infant is still in the hospital, especially if the tooth is loose and the child runs a risk of aspiration, or “breathing in” the tooth.

Common Causes

     
  • Isolated instance (most common)  
  • Ellis-van Creveld syndrome  
  • Hallermann-Streiff syndrome  
  • Pierre Robin syndrome  
  • Soto’s syndrome

Home Care
If the teeth are not removed, keep them clean by gently wiping the gums and teeth with a clean, damp cloth. Examine the infant’s gums and tongue frequently to make sure the teeth are not causing injury.

Call your health care provider if

     
  • an infant with natal teeth that have been left in place develops a sore tongue or mouth.  
  • other symptoms develop.

What to expect at your health care provider’s office

The medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed.

Documenting natal teeth in detail may include the following questions:

     
  • Were any other family members born with teeth? Did they later develop any problems?  
  • Are any other symptoms present?

Note: This finding is usually discovered by the health care provider during the initial examination of the infant, and often no further documentation is needed other than just to note that there were teeth present at birth.

The physical examination will include thorough examination of the mouth, and dental X-rays may be considered. If there are signs of any condition that can be associated with natal teeth, examination and testing for that condition will be performed.

Note: Most often natal teeth occurs as an isolated incident.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Sharon M. Smith, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.