What Are Natal Teeth?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on February 16, 2024
3 min read

Natal teeth are teeth a baby is born with. This condition is rare. It's harmless for a newborn to have teeth from birth, but it can create problems for the mother in breastfeeding.

Natal teeth are different from normal teeth. They are mostly not fully developed and have weak roots.

The condition doesn't require medical attention, but you may want to ask the baby’s pediatrician to look at the teeth.

Natal teeth are also known as baby teeth. These teeth are not the same as neonatal teeth that erupt in the child's mouth in their first month, though. The primary reason for this condition is still unknown.

You can also identify these teeth from their appearance. They are small, loose, and weak due to their early arrival. They are often discolored. 

About one in every 2,000 babies are born with natal teeth. 

The condition doesn't cause any health issues in your baby born with teeth, but some doctors may advise you to have them removed if they cause any problem.

To date, the reason a baby may be born with natal teeth is unknown. 

Some experts, however, believe that natal teeth in children are linked to health issues that affect their growth. The health issues may include Sotos syndrome and Ellis-van Creveld syndrome (chondroectodermal dysplasia). 

Other health conditions may involve Hallermann-Streiff syndrome and pachyonychia congenita. 

Natal teeth sometimes look like regular teeth. In such cases, you can't differentiate them from normal teeth. 

Oftentimes, natal teeth are:

  • Small
  • Weak
  • Loose
  • Discolored (brown or yellow)

Natal teeth are not a medical emergency, but they may cause some complications as the baby grows. These complications can also affect the mother along with the baby.

Some complications that may occur because of natal teeth are:

  • The mother may get bitten by the infant while breastfeeding.
  • As the baby grows up, they may inhale the tooth. This could lead to the tooth becoming stuck in their airway, causing several other issues.

For diagnosis, the doctor asks about your infant's complete medical history and then conducts a physical examination. The teeth are usually visible by the naked eye, so the doctor diagnoses them based on the physical check-up.

Your child's dentist may also need X-ray imaging to get a more clear picture. The doctor will use the X-rays of your newborn's mouth to confirm the diagnosis of natal teeth. If they identify a discolored and undeveloped tooth, it is more likely a natal tooth.

A doctor will then decide whether they should remove the teeth or not. If they opt for extraction, the procedure should be quite simple as these teeth can be removed using fingers or a pair of forceps.

Natal teeth treatment usually depends on your child's symptoms, age, and overall health. It will also depend on their condition. 

In most cases, there is no need for treatment.  In some situations, however, they may suggest removing the teeth. This procedure helps to reduce the risk of your child swallowing the tooth. It could also help in preventing the problems you may face while breastfeeding. 

Natal teeth can also damage your baby's tongue, so removal may be a good treatment option. On the other hand, doctors may also recommend smoothing the top edges of the teeth. This can prevent damage to your child's tongue.

You can visit a doctor as soon as you face any problem with natal teeth. Most often, they are harmless. If you want to get your child checked, you should follow some tips to make the most out of your visit. 

You must:

  • Write down your questions before visiting the doctor.
  • Write down all the instructions and precautionary measures your provider gives for your child.
  • Ask about all the possible treatment options.
  • Know all the complications if you don't get the treatment.
  • Know how you can contact your child's provider any time of the day.