One of the most exciting times in a young person’s life is losing that first set of “baby” teeth and moving on to a bigger and more permanent adult smile. This rite of passage doesn’t always go smoothly though, and many people retain baby teeth into adulthood.
An incredible amount of growth happens from birth to age 13. So, it’s a good thing that the jaw grows quickly with the rest of the body. Sometimes, however, a person’s jaw just doesn’t develop at the correct rate and teeth become crowded as they try to make an appearance. This crowding may not allow adult teeth to come in properly, leaving baby teeth retained. Orthodontic interception is the most common way to make room for adult teeth. In some cases, baby teeth have to be removed if they don’t get loose on their own. As long as the adult teeth are all accounted for, the results are consistently great.
The process for losing baby teeth is really interesting. As adult tooth buds far under the gumline grow larger, the anchor roots of the baby teeth are dissolved completely.
This mostly painless process causes the baby teeth to become loose and pushed right out of the way. Sometimes, adult tooth buds just never develop at all. In cases like this, the baby teeth won’t get any pressure so they stay put. These situations usually call for dental implants at some point because the short roots of baby teeth were not meant to last a lifetime. They are also not as strong, so they tend to break under years of wear and tear. It’s important to recognize this and plan ahead for replacement teeth.
The first set of teeth act like space holders for future adult teeth. If your teeth develop perfectly according to eruption schedules, the 12 year molars should be coming in to replace the last set of primary teeth around the age they are named after. It’s common to have a year or two delay but anything beyond that should be evaluated by a dentist. So, adults walking around with baby teeth isn’t considered “normal,” but it is a very common occurrence and one that we can treat.