It's recommended that a child attends their very first dental appointment by their first birthday. Different children have different needs, and so your child may need to see a dentist slightly earlier if their teeth start developing a little ahead of schedule. And then there are rare cases when a child has to see a dentist a whole lot earlier—like when they're still a newborn.
It's not a common occurrence, but some children are born with teeth—likely to only be a partial set or isolated teeth. These are called natal teeth, and while the rarity of the condition means that it can be classed as an abnormality, it's not necessarily one of clinical significance. However, these natal teeth require a dental examination.
Your baby's natal teeth should be assessed by a pediatric dentist—a children's dentistry specialist. This examination will determine whether the teeth should be left in place or extracted.
Two Sets of Teeth
A person receives two sets of teeth in their lifetime. These are their primary teeth (also called deciduous or baby teeth), and their secondary teeth (also called permanent or adult teeth). But there are exceptions to every rule.
Natal teeth can often be supernumerary, or extra teeth. These are irregular eruptions of teeth, unrelated to the primary or secondary teeth. If the root structure of the natal teeth suggests that they are supernumerary, then extraction will be recommended.
Supernumerary teeth often have shallow root systems and may be partially mobile, meaning that they feel loose in your baby's gums. They could conceivably detach without much stimulation, making them a choking hazard. Their physical presence can also disrupt the growth of your baby's official first set of teeth. This is why natal teeth that are positively identified as supernumerary will be extracted. Given the relative weakness of these teeth, extraction involves a very minor process.
Natal teeth aren't always supernumerary, and in some cases may be primary teeth that developed well ahead of schedule, and in fact developed in the uterus. These teeth will be regularly monitored (your baby may need to start attending regular dental appointments from a very early age) but should function normally, with other primary teeth erupting in the months to come.
Although it's going to undoubtedly be a curious experience if your baby is born with teeth, remember that this isn't a major dental complication. Depending on the precise classification of your baby's natal teeth, they'll either be extracted or left in place.
For more information, contact a children's dentistry service near you.