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What to Do About Your Child’s Tooth Growing Sideways in Their Gum

mother taking child to the dentist

A sideways tooth doesn’t only have a negative physical appearance; it can also cause long-term issues in your child’s mouth.

Have you noticed your child’s teeth growing in crooked?

Do you know what to do when your child has a tooth growing sideways in their gum?

A child’s permanent teeth coming in crooked can seem scary, but there are things you can do to fix them.

In this article, we’re advising on what to do when you notice your child’s permanent tooth coming in sideways. Keep reading to learn how to get your child expert orthodontic care when new teeth are growing in crooked. 

What Causes a Sideways Tooth?

In the dental and orthodontic worlds, a sideways tooth can be classified as ectopic or severely rotated. An ectopic tooth refers to a tooth that’s erupting in the wrong place. A severely rotated tooth is a tooth that’s erupting in the correct place but not the proper orientation.

There are a few factors that can contribute to permanent teeth being ectopic or severely rotated: 

  1. A child’s mouth is too small, and there’s inadequate space for adult teeth to erupt.
  2. A baby tooth doesn’t fall out, leading to the adult tooth growing sideways in the gum.
  3. A permanent tooth is already crooked and doesn’t erupt at all.

When recognized early, an orthodontist can help treat these issues to stop any further damage.

Why Fix a Permanent Tooth Growing Sideways?

Not all sideways teeth are harmful. Sometimes orthodontists will treat a severely rotated tooth once all the adult teeth have erupted.

However, there are times when a sideways tooth can harm the mouth. Failure to address these situations can lead to more severe issues. Sideways teeth can cause immediate and long-term oral health frustrations, two of which are overcrowding and impacted teeth.

1. Overcrowding

Spacing is essential for healthy adult tooth eruption. A child’s permanent tooth coming in sideways can reduce space and cause overcrowding. 

As a permanent tooth erupts sideways, it can move into the wrong position. A tooth in the wrong place can take away space from other adult teeth and cause them to come in crooked as well.

Overcrowding also causes impacted teeth to press against surrounding teeth. Permanent teeth pressing against adjacent teeth can push them into the wrong position.

Sideways teeth can affect the overall tooth spacing in a child’s mouth. Thankfully, orthodontic treatment can effectively address spacing issues.

2. Impacted Tooth

Space issues, like overcrowding, can lead to impacted teeth. However, teeth can also become impacted regardless of space issues. 

Impacted teeth are new teeth growing in crooked and are blocked from erupting. Sometimes teeth are fully impacted, and other times they’re partially impacted. Either way, the tooth isn’t erupting correctly, and some form of treatment may be necessary. Upper canines are the most common teeth that become impacted.

Impacted teeth can create new space issues in the mouth or add to current spacing problems. They can also be more challenging to clean. Fully impacted teeth may never break through the surface and will therefore be impossible to clean. Partially impacted teeth can be at a higher risk of cavities, decay, or gum disease.

Catching an impacted tooth early can help your orthodontist provide expert advice on what to do. They may wait and see if the impacted tooth straightens out, or they might start some sort of treatment to assist the tooth with eruption. 

If you suspect your child has teeth growing in the wrong places, it’s best to connect with an orthodontist. They can identify the problem and provide the appropriate course of action.

How to Treat Teeth Growing in Wrong Places

The best defense against impacted teeth is a good offense. Be proactive in getting your child in to see an orthodontist.

Experts agree that age seven is a great time to schedule an initial orthodontic consultation for your child. Your child has started to lose baby teeth at this age, and some of their adult teeth have erupted. An orthodontist can take x-rays of your child’s mouth to see how the transition is going and pinpoint any issues with incoming permanent teeth.

If the orthodontist doesn’t see any immediate issues that need addressing, then that’s great.

On the other hand, the orthodontist may spot some early spacing or jaw issues requiring more immediate attention. In this case, they’ll share concerns and treatment options with you.

Important note: It may be best to find an orthodontist who takes a more conservative orthodontic treatment approach. A conservative approach will ensure that your child is only getting treatment if it’s necessary for long-term health.

Here are the three most common orthodontic procedures done at an early age to correct a permanent tooth growing sideways:

1. Palatal Expander

If your child’s jaw is too small or there’s a lack of adequate space for adult tooth eruption, the orthodontist may insert an expander into your child’s palate.

A palatal expander slowly pushes the two halves of the palate apart. As the expansion occurs, new bone is added, and the palate increases in size. 

The palate expansion process is entirely safe and painless, though patients may experience difficulty swallowing or speaking correctly for the first few days after insertion.

Children who are still growing are the best candidates for palate expansion. This expansion procedure is effective in creating more space and reducing the need for tooth extractions.

2. Short-term Braces

Sometimes, placing braces (or using Invisalign) for a short period can help push adult and baby teeth into their correct position. Aligning baby and adult teeth can open up space for sideways teeth to erupt properly and help guide permanent teeth into place.

3. Tooth Extraction

Baby teeth are essential for adult tooth eruption. Dentists and orthodontists want to keep them in the mouth until they fall out naturally. 

However, there are some situations where pulling a baby tooth can help a child’s permanent tooth coming in sideways to have room to erupt. Extracting a baby tooth can also help a new permanent tooth come in closer to its ideal position.

These three methods of early child orthodontic care aren’t a long-term solution to straight teeth. They’re simply a way to get all the permanent teeth into a child’s mouth as correctly as possible. A second round of orthodontic care may be necessary once your child’s adult teeth erupt fully.

Expert Care for Your Child’s Sideways Tooth

A sideways tooth can have long-term effects on your child’s oral health, but you don’t need to worry if you have an excellent oral care provider. Impacted teeth are common, and many treatment options are available.

Taking your child to see an orthodontist as early as age seven can help address any issues before becoming more serious. Often, your child may need more space in their mouth for incoming permanent teeth. To help create space for permanent teeth coming in crooked, an orthodontist may:

  • Install a palatal expander
  • Place braces
  • Extract baby teeth

Sometimes, no early treatment will be necessary, and an orthodontist will wait to see what happens once all of your child’s teeth have erupted.

If you’re currently thinking, “My child’s permanent teeth are coming in crooked, what do I do?” we’re here to help.

At Bates Orthodontics, we provide a conservative approach to childhood orthodontic treatment, meaning we take time to do a thorough consultation and only prescribe treatment when necessary. We desire to do what’s best for you and your child in the long term—no pressure or strings attached. 

Sign up for a free consultation or give us a call at (804) 934-9292. We’d love to welcome you into our office and provide professional orthodontic advice to you and your child.