For most adults, their baby teeth (also known as milk teeth, deciduous teeth or primary teeth) are a distant memory. All of their milk teeth fell out during early adolescence and they now have a full set of adult teeth.
While this is true for most people, there are some cases where a person retains one or more of their primary teeth into adulthood. For some people, a retained milk tooth is not a problem, but there can be reasons to seek treatment from a dentist.
In this post, we are going to take a closer look at issues concerning adults that still have baby teeth. We will discuss what causes this to occur, some of the options for treatment and we will also look at a case of a retained milk tooth that was treated at Brighton Implant Clinic.
What is the cause of a retained baby tooth?
In most cases that involve a retained milk tooth, it is the result of the patient not having a permanent tooth to push it out and take its place. If there is no adult tooth to force the primary tooth out, the baby tooth might stay in place until adulthood.
Along with the tooth simply being missing, there are some cases where the patient has the permanent tooth, but it failed to emerge. In rare cases, the tooth might fuse to the bone. When this occurs, the permanent tooth can’t move, so it will not push the milk tooth out.
Beyond that, issues relating to trauma or infection can affect the development of a tooth or prevent it from emerging.
In many cases, a retained baby tooth is not a problem. Some people may not even know that they still have one of their primary teeth in their mouth. However, there are several reasons why treatment may be necessary. Since these teeth are smaller than the adult teeth, they might be difficult to clean. This can increase the risk of cavities and infection.
In addition to a retained milk tooth causing oral hygiene problems, they can also have an effect on the aesthetics of the patient’s smile. Being smaller than the other teeth, it can leave room for the adult teeth to tip or shift a little in the mouth. If the retained milk tooth is in the front of the patient’s mouth, the small size of the tooth might be noticeable next to the permanent teeth.
Treatment Options for a Retained Milk Tooth
If you have a retained baby tooth, your dentist should be able to tell you whether it needs to be treated. If it is healthy and it is not causing any problems, the dentist may recommend keeping the tooth with no treatment.
For a baby tooth that is an aesthetic concern but still healthy, the dentist might be able to put a cap on it to provide the appearance of an adult tooth. This can address the aesthetic concern if the tooth is still healthy and functional.
In other cases, the milk tooth may need to be extracted. If the tooth does need to be removed, the best option is to replace the milk tooth with a dental implant and a dental crown. An implant will not only address the aesthetic concern, but it will also improve function.
A Case from Brighton Implant Clinic
This patient came to Brighton Implant Clinic with a retained milk tooth. Over time, the tooth became loose and it suffered damage. As you can see in the photo, the tooth is noticeably smaller than the adult teeth in the patient’s mouth.
The patient consulted with a dentist and it was decided that a dental implant was the best solution for replacing the retained baby tooth. The tooth was painlessly removed using a local anaesthetic and the area was prepared for the dental implant procedure. The implant was placed the same day as the extraction, and we had our dental lab create a provisional crown.
We used a screw-retained crown for the provisional prosthetic and the patient was happy with the results in the interim. We also referred the patient to a dental hygienist to clean the adjacent teeth, which had experienced some plaque build-up while the milk tooth was still in the mouth.
We later received the permanent dental implant crown back from our lab and tested it for fit, shade and shape. The permanent restoration is a porcelain crown that is to be cement retained instead of the screw-retained temporary crown. In this case, we chose a cement-retained crown because we felt that it was a better option considering the position of the tooth.
This photo shows the final restoration. The patient was happy with the finished result. The replacement tooth now matches the natural permanent teeth in the mouth and the implant procedure has provided a better look and better function for the patient.
Brighton Implant Clinic offers cosmetic dentistry and a range of dental implant treatments. If you have a retained milk tooth, you can contact us for a consultation. We will perform an examination and advise you to the best solution available. Contact Brighton Implant Clinic to learn more about treatment for a retained baby tooth.