From the age of about six, baby teeth begin to fall out. By the age of around twelve, permanent or secondary teeth should have already replaced those lost baby teeth. However, sometimes baby teeth don't want to go. Instead of falling out, they remain.
In fact, many adults over the age of 20 still have at least one baby tooth. Keep reading to learn more about this.
Why Does It Happen?
In some cases, a baby tooth remains because it has been over retained. This means that the natural process of shedding and replacing the baby tooth has been interrupted somehow. The permanent replacement could be impacted, or in other words, stuck inside your jaw and unable to erupt due to a lack of space. It could also be stuck in the bone itself.
This is why it important that you see your dentist if you suspect you have an over-retained tooth. A dentist can help your tooth to complete its mission of replacing the baby tooth by creating more room in your mouth or by surgically releasing the tooth. But sometimes, there is no permanent tooth to come through in the first place.
Baby Teeth Can Last Forever
In up to 6.9 percent of cases, a baby tooth doesn't have a replacement. The space behind the baby tooth, where the permanent tooth should have developed, is empty. Essentially, this then means that your baby tooth has to take on the role of an adult tooth. Can it do that? Is a baby tooth as strong as a permanent tooth?
Baby teeth are smaller than adult teeth, noticeably so when you smile. However, as long as you don't mind having a baby tooth in your smile, your baby tooth could last a lifetime. Though it is true that baby teeth don't have as much enamel or dentin, the two protective layers that make up teeth, if cared for, baby teeth can last many, many years.
You may need some help though.
Bonding or Crowns Can Help
To give your baby tooth a chance, you may need to opt for cosmetic dentistry. For example, composite bonding is a process in which a bonding resin is molded and sculpted onto a tooth to add shape and structure. In this way, the tooth is enlarged and strengthened. You could also opt to cover it with a porcelain crown, a stronger and much longer lasting form of protection, albeit more expensive.
Baby teeth don't always want to go. However, if well cared for, they can last a lifetime. If you're concerned about a baby tooth you should have lost already, contact your family dentist.