Natal teeth are teeth that are already present at the time of birth. They are different from neonatal teeth, which grow in during the first 30 days after birth.
Natal teeth are uncommon. They are present in about 1 in every 2,000 to 3,000 births. Natal teeth most often develop on the lower gum, where the central incisor teeth will appear. They have little root structure. They are attached to the end of the gum by soft tissue and are often wobbly.
Natal teeth are usually not well-formed, but they may cause irritation and injury to the infant's tongue when nursing. Natal teeth may also be uncomfortable for a nursing mother.
Natal teeth are often removed shortly after birth while the newborn infant is still in the hospital. This is very often done if the tooth is loose and the child runs a risk "breathing in" the tooth.
Most of the time, natal teeth are not related to a medical condition. However, sometimes they may be associated with:
Clean the natal teeth by gently wiping the gums and teeth with a clean, damp cloth. Examine the infant's gums and tongue often to make sure the teeth are not causing injury.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor if an infant with natal teeth develops a sore tongue or mouth, or other symptoms.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Natal teeth are most often discovered by the health care provider shortly after birth.
Dental x-rays may be done in some cases. If there are signs of another condition that may be linked with natal teeth, exams and testing for that condition will be done.
Smith JB. Initial evaluation. In: Gleason CA, Devaskar SU. Avery's Diseases of the Newborn. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 25.
Ilona Fotek, DMD, MS, Palm Beach Prosthodontics Dental Associates, West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.