Shark teeth … this dental term gets its name from the fact that sharks have from 5 to 15 rows of teeth in each jaw. Their teeth do not have roots and are replaced after about a week. Shark teeth is a condition in children when they develop adult teeth behind their baby teeth, creating a double row of teeth. This occurs when there is either a failure of eruption of the adult teeth or failure of resorption of the primary (baby) teeth. Sometimes both. Either condition lends itself to the baby teeth not exfoliating (falling out) when they should and thus, resulting in multiple rows of teeth aka “shark teeth”!
Usually “shark teeth” are more common in the lower (front teeth) incisors; but they also occur in the upper incisors as the molars adult teeth grown in and develop. They often occur around age 6, but can also occur as late as age 11-12 years of age when the upper back molars erupt.
Sometimes shark teeth do not need to be treated, as the primary teeth generally will become loose and fall out on their own. The real issue is how much the adult teeth are deflected and if they can be easily orthodontically corrected! Keeping regular pediatric dental appointments will help your child to have ongoing dental eruption pattern assessments as to the proper development of their adult teeth, bite and smile.
If the baby teeth are causing the adult teeth to develop and erupt improperly, your child’s pediatric dentist may recommend extraction of the teeth that are causing the problem. The primary teeth are placeholders for the adult teeth, so removing them too soon can also be an issue.
Early space loss can contribute to future orthodontic issues. Continued assessment by the pediatric dentist can definitely mitigate, if not obviate future orthodontic care, saving parents time and expense!
Shark teeth are not uncommon but should be evaluated if they don’t seem to be resolving naturally. They can cause crowding of adult teeth over time and can also make brushing and flossing more difficult.