Julia had just given birth to a beautiful baby boy. She is so excited and started to breastfeed him. Her son could latch very well but each time Julia nursed her baby, she will purse her lips in pain. When she checked her baby’s mouth, she noticed that her newborn baby has a tooth at his lower gum! Could this be the source of pain to her while breastfeeding? What should Julia do?
Julia’s baby had the tooth since birth, which is also known as natal tooth. Some newborn babies erupt their tooth during the first month of life which is also known as neonatal tooth. Normally, teeth started to erupt around 6 months of age.
Natal tooth is a rare occasion and is reported to occur in 1 in 3500 babies. The cause of why newborn babies are born with tooth or teeth remains unclear and unknown. Natal and neonatal tooth may be seen in association with cleft lip or palate and some congenital syndrome. Some studies say that it is more common in male newborn but some studies found no difference in terms of gender.
Usually natal tooth or teeth are present on the lower gum and most often are ‘milk’ teeth. These natal teeth may look like normal milk or primary teeth in size and shape but they are often smaller, yellowish and have an undeveloped root.
What can happen if a newborn baby has tooth?
Some mothers do not have any complaint at all! But some mothers might experience pain while nursing and have cracked nipple which can be a set back to continue breastfeeding.
As for the babies, if the tooth or teeth is loose, it may be accidentally choked by the baby while breastfeeding and lodged in his windpipe. This tooth also may cause a small ulcer to the baby’s tongue or nearby structures if the edges are sharp.
What should I do if I noticed that my baby has newborn tooth/teeth?
Babies born with natal tooth or teeth should be evaluated by a paediatric dentist. They will evaluate whether the tooth is loose or needed to be removed. Not all natal tooth needs to be removed.
What are the indications for the natal tooth to be removed?
- If the natal tooth is loose since there is a risk of choking
- If the baby develops an ulcer over the tongue or any nearby soft tissue
- Interferes with suckling and breastfeeding which cause pain to the mother during breastfeeding
How should I nurse my newborn who is born with tooth or teeth?
When your baby is latched on correctly and nursed actively, getting the milk and swallowing, it is physically impossible for the baby to bite you. During the process, your nipple is far back in your baby’s mouth and the baby’s tongue extends over his gums between the lower gum and breast. Correct technique for latching and positioning is very important. If you still experience pain, you might need to express your breastmilk and give it via cup or bottle to your baby.
Natal tooth or teeth is a rare occasion but it sometimes can give problem to nursing mothers and the babies. So do contact your doctor or lactation counselor for advice and referral to the paediatric dentist.
- Nirmala SVSG, Ratna Prabhu V, Sindhuri Veluru, Namaratha Tharay NKK and HKJ. Natal Teeth – A Case Report with Decision Support System. J Pediatr Neonatal Care. 2015;2(3):2–5.
- Malki GA, Al-badawi EA, Dahlan MA. Case Report Natal Teeth : A Case Report and Reappraisal. Hindawi- Case Rep Dent. 2015;2015:1–5.
This article was written by Dr Nurjasmine Aida Jamani, IBCLC Family Medicine Specialist, IIUM and Dr Nor Asilah Harun, Paediatric Dentistry Specialist, IIUM. This article is published in conjunction with Worl Breastfeeding Week.