My daughter spent the majority of kindergarten last year swearing up and down she had a loose tooth. "Look, it's wiggly!" she'd announce, attempting to move an almost immobile teensy little tooth back and forth. It wasn't. But over the summer it did, finally, start to get loose. What it didn't do, though, was ever fall out. She'd complain about it sometimes, but honestly I didn't remember from my own childhood how long it would actually take a tooth to come out, so I didn't worry.
That is, until I spied the adult tooth that was already breaking through behind the baby tooth that was refusing to vacate the space. It was growing fast and at a crazy angle, right behind the baby tooth it was supposed to replace.
Luckily a high school friend is a dentist. I asked her what the deal was and if it was bad. She told me that shark teeth are not all that uncommon.
Yep, shark teeth, so named because the teeth grow in rows, like a shark's.
It happens because the roots of the old tooth never atrophy to allow it to fall out when the new tooth grows in behind, rather than directly under, the baby tooth. It's not quite as horrible as you might imagine, either. If you aren't squeamish (I am), you can pull it out yourself, or encourage your child to wiggle it back and forth and try to get it out. A dentist can also do it.
My daughter finally asked her kindergarten teacher for help (she'd apparently pulled out another kid's tooth last year when my daughter was in her class, and my daughter tends to think this teacher has many talents). We're told the adult tooth will probably move into its rightful place eventually.
Until then ... time to start saving up for an orthodontist. And resist the urge to call my daughter Sharkey.
Does your child have a shark tooth?
Image via Paul Albertella/Flickr