Sometimes, a child’s permanent teeth emerge before their corresponding baby teeth fall out, appearing as a second row of teeth. Dentists call this phenomenon “shark teeth.” Most cases resolve naturally, while others require treatment. 

Understanding how to care for your child’s shark teeth and when to seek dental care can ensure your child’s permanent teeth grow into the proper alignment.

Why Does My Kid Have Two Rows of Teeth?

Waiting for loose baby teeth to fall out is exciting for children and parents. It’s also a time when shark teeth can emerge. You may feel concerned if you’ve never seen shark teeth before, but this condition usually resolves itself.

Why Does My Kid Have Shark Teeth?

Adult teeth typically grow directly beneath baby teeth, dissolving the roots and loosening them until they fall out. This process allows the permanent tooth room to grow. 

Kids develop shark teeth when their permanent teeth emerge at an angle, growing behind a baby tooth instead of pushing it out. A permanent tooth can also erupt behind a baby tooth if the roots dissolve incorrectly.

Children typically start losing their baby teeth at about age 5, and their front incisors or lower front teeth begin developing at age 6. A child is most likely to have shark teeth around this time. Shark teeth can also appear behind the upper incisors as a child’s tooth development continues.

Shark Teeth Symptoms

Shark teeth typically occur without symptoms — your child may not notice them. Kids with shark teeth can sometimes experience discomfort, a remaining baby tooth or both.

Most baby teeth loosen after shark teeth emerge because the tongue gradually shifts the permanent tooth forward into alignment, pushing the baby tooth out. However, some baby teeth remain in the mouth and require attention.

How to Take Care of Shark Teeth

Encourage your child to brush and floss their shark teeth if they can. They may need your help with their dental hygiene, since the baby teeth partially obscure the shark teeth. Brushing and flossing remove plaque and bacteria, preventing tooth decay. Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste helps your child’s permanent teeth remain healthy as they grow and develop.

When Should I Worry About Shark Teeth?

Most cases of shark teeth are minor and require no medical attention. Keep an eye on your child’s teeth, and encourage them to wiggle their baby teeth if possible.

Loose baby teeth indicate that they will fall out and make room for permanent teeth to align naturally. Some cases of shark teeth require dental expertise, so contact a pediatric dentist if you notice the following issues.

  • Significant discomfort: Your child may need to visit the dentist if they experience pain or discomfort that surpasses typical loose teeth sensations.
  • Remaining tooth after two months: If a baby tooth in front of a shark tooth remains unwavering for two months, talk to your child’s dentist. They may need to extract a baby tooth that doesn’t fall out naturally.
  • Increasing permanent tooth height: You should also call your child’s dentist if a shark tooth approaches the same height as the baby tooth in front of it. A permanent tooth reaching the same height as a baby tooth indicates the baby tooth requires removal or assistance loosening.

Shark teeth in kids can increase plaque and tooth decay, since they are harder to reach and clean behind baby teeth. If they go unresolved for too long, they can also lead to crowding.

Seeking dental attention when shark teeth cause discomfort ensures your child’s teeth align correctly. Regular dental visits and consistent dental eruption pattern assessments allow a dentist to carefully monitor your child’s adult teeth, smile and bite development.

How Do Dentists Treat Shark Teeth?

Most shark teeth cases can resolve independently, but some may require a dentist’s attention. A pediatric dentist can recommend tips to loosen a stubborn baby tooth. They may suggest your child eat some sturdy, healthy foods such as apples to loosen the tooth, and they can recommend over-the-counter pain medications if your child experiences discomfort. 

Sometimes, a dentist must extract a baby tooth if it remains in place after the permanent tooth behind it fully emerges. Extracting the baby tooth usually allows the permanent tooth to move into the correct alignment within a few weeks or months.

When Is the Best Time for a Tooth Extraction?

Most dentists recommend extracting shark teeth in pairs. For example, if one permanent front incisor emerges, your child’s dentist will most likely wait until its corresponding tooth emerges to perform the extraction. This approach allows the dentist to address both teeth simultaneously, so your child can avoid having two procedures.

Waiting is also necessary in some cases because baby teeth are placeholders for a child’s permanent teeth. Removing primary teeth at the proper time allows them to hold space so the shark teeth can grow into the correct positions.

How Can I Help My Child Feel Comfortable if They Require a Procedure?

Children are more likely to feel comfortable during dental procedures if they visit a pediatric dentist they are familiar with. Pediatric dentists receive two to three years of additional training to work with children, so they can take extra care to ease anxieties.

Dental offices also offer sedation options to help children sleep or relax during procedures. There is a wide range of sedation options available. Many times, behavior guidance and nitrous oxide, commonly know as laughing gas, can still be the best option for younger children during extraction. A pediatric dentist can recommend the best option based on your child’s comfort level.

Address Your Child’s Shark Teeth at Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

While shark teeth typically resolve naturally, your little one’s shark teeth may require extra attention. Seek dental attention if your child’s primary teeth remain longer than two months or your child experiences discomfort.

Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics offers excellent dental care in an environment kids enjoy visiting. We can help you determine the best treatment for your child’s shark teeth, whether they resolve naturally or require a procedure.

At Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics, we provide quality care and make your child feel comfortable during their visit. Our compassionate pediatric dentists have specifically trained to work with children and help your little one feel welcome during each appointment.

We have worked with children of all personality types and temperaments, so we can ensure you and your child have a positive experience. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your child’s smile and development.

About Us

We are a specialty practice providing pediatric dental care & children's orthodontics, including braces and Invisalign, in the Portland area.

Call 503-477-9911 to make an appointment.

We look forward to meeting you.

Sprout Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics
1401 SE Morrison St. Ste 120, Portland, OR 97214

Phone: 503.477.9911


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