When a child's primary teeth come in, the structure of the teeth mimic adult teeth but on a smaller scale. This means that the tooth emerges connected to a periodontal ligament that runs through the gums to join tooth and jawbone. In rare cases, that ligament can be replaced by solid bone that prevents the tooth from growing any further. This is called dental ankylosis, and it's a problem that needs to be watched for in young children.
What are the treatment options if your child has displayed symptoms of dental ankylosis? And why is it vital to keep all of your scheduled dentist appointments?
If the tooth displaying dental ankylosis is surrounded by healthy teeth, the dentist might allow that tooth to grow in the best that it can. This requires frequent monitoring to make sure that the emerging tooth is actually going to emerge from the gum and isn't going to cause any problems for neighboring teeth.
What problems can this type of tooth cause for neighboring teeth? The overly rigid structure means that the new tooth can't subtly shift the way healthy teeth can. This means that the rigid tooth can push the healthy teeth into tilting towards or away from the unhealthy tooth.
The dentist will also need to track to see if the ankylosis tooth is going to come out on its own to allow a permanent tooth to grow in. If this doesn't seem likely to happen, the dentist might need to remove the tooth and monitor the emergence of the adult tooth for signs of the same issue.
If the ankylosis tooth is emerging in a way that can shove other teeth out of the way, the dentist will likely recommend surgical extraction. This prevents the healthy teeth from being pushed out of line, which can cause bit problems such as a crossbite as well as issues with jaw development.
The dentist will still need to keep a close eye on the development of the permanent tooth that tries to emerge from that same spot. It's possible that the permanent tooth will also have to be extracted to avoid further damage.
Depending on the number and location of teeth suffering from ankylosis, braces might be prescribed to help prevent any developing bite issues. Braces are a potential solution when an ankylosis tooth is extracted from a region already filled with healthy teeth. The braces can keep those healthy teeth from leaning into the gap caused by the missing ankylosis tooth. Speak with experts like Larsen-Haslem Dental for more information.