Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care

: 2016  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 184--185

Natal and neonatal teeth: Terminologies with diverse superstitions!!

Ujwala Rohan Newadkar, Lalit Chaudhari, Yogita K Khalekar 
 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, ACPM Dental College, Dhule, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Ujwala Rohan Newadkar
Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, ACPM Dental College, Dhule - 424 003, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Newadkar UR, Chaudhari L, Khalekar YK. Natal and neonatal teeth: Terminologies with diverse superstitions!!.J Family Med Prim Care 2016;5:184-185

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Newadkar UR, Chaudhari L, Khalekar YK. Natal and neonatal teeth: Terminologies with diverse superstitions!!. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Jan 19 ];5:184-185
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

Natal teeth are present in the oral cavity at the time of birth, and a neonatal tooth erupts within first 30 days after birth. Teeth erupting beyond the natal period of 30 days (i.e., erupting within 1-3.5 months) are usually referred to as early infancy teeth. They are also known as congenital teeth, fetal teeth, predeciduous teeth, precocious dentition (Mayhall and Bodenhoff), as well as dentitia praecox and dens connatalis. [1] It must be considered that natal and neonatal teeth are conditions of fundamental importance since their presence may lead to numerous complications. Early detection and treatment of these teeth are recommended because they may induce deformity or mutilation of the tongue, dehydration, inadequate nutrients intake by the infant, and growth retardation, the pattern, and time of eruption of teeth and its morphology. [2]

A 12-day-old female newborn infant was brought to our department when the parents noticed teeth-like structures in the mandibular and maxillary incisor area [Figure 1]. On intraoral examination, the teeth were diagnosed as "natal teeth" since they were present in the infant's mouth at the time of the delivery. The teeth were highly mobile and caused discomfort for the nursing mother and at the same time presented a potential risk for the infant; therefore, the removal of the teeth was planned. They were extracted under topical local anesthesia, which the patient tolerated well. The patient was reevaluated after 2 days, and the recovery was found to be uneventful. The extracted teeth had a crown but were devoid of roots.{Figure 1}

The premature eruption of a tooth at the time of birth or too early is combined with many misconceptions. They are further accompanied by various difficulties, such as pain on suckling and refusal to feed, faced by the mother, and the child due to the natal tooth/teeth. Some families are so superstitious that the afflicted child may be deprived of parental love. The family hopes that the offending teeth be removed as soon as possible. Natal and neonatal teeth have been a subject of curiosity and study since the time it was first documented by Titus Livius, in 59 BC. Gaius Plinius Secundus (the elder), in 23 BC, believed that a splendid future awaited male infants with natal teeth. In some countries, the child is considered to be monstrous and bearer of misfortune for example. As per Chinese tradition, it is considered as a bad omen for girls. [2] In countries such as Poland, India, and among African tribes the children with these teeth have been killed soon after the birth, as it was believed to bring misfortune. In England, it was thought that these babies would become great soldiers whereas in France and Italy this condition would guarantee the conquest of world. Famous personalities like Zoroaster, Hannibal, Louis XIV, Mazarin, Richelieu, Mirabeau, Richard III, and Napoleon were born with these teeth. [3]

The incidence of natal and neonatal teeth varies from 1:1000 to 1:30,000. The incidence may vary between different racial groups. Although there is no sex predilection but few authors have reported a female predominance of the anomaly. [4] The exact etiology is unknown, some factors that are assumed to be considered as etiological factors are infection, and febrile states, trauma, malnutrition, hormonal stimulation, and exposure to environmental toxins are reflected as maternal risk factors for natal teeth these teeth during the intrauterine period of the child, superficial location of the tooth germ in the infant and also sometimes hereditary (autosomal dominant trait). [5]

The natal and neonatal teeth are more frequently seen in the mandibular incisor regions and are more frequently bilateral. [1] Natal teeth present with complications such as discomfort during suckling, irritation, and trauma to infants' tongue, sublingual ulceration (Riga-Fede disease) laceration of the mother's breast, and risk of aspiration if mobility exists. Prolonged gingival irritation may increase the incidence of gingival fibrous dysplasia. As the feeding of the child is affected during the early infancy and associated with difficulty in feeding, the growth and development of the child are affected as the only source of nutrition during infancy is milk particularly from the mother. However, procedures like extraction, which may cause bleeding, should always be undertaken 8-10 days following birth, because the bacterial flora present in the digestive tract of the newborn infants may be ineffective in the production of Vitamin K during the first 10 days following delivery. Vitamin K plays a major role in the prothrombin synthesis in the liver. [5] Natal teeth are associated with Ellis-van Creveld syndrome, Hallermann-Streiff syndrome, Pierre-Robin syndrome, Soto's syndrome, congenital pachyonychia. [6]

Apart from the misconceptions and myths associated with natal and neonatal teeth, early detection along with a thorough clinical examination of the oral cavity is mandatory. It is important to make the right decision to promote better healthcare for both the infant and the mother.

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