An ectopic tooth is a tooth that grows in an unexpected or abnormal position. The condition can be observed in children when a secondary (adult) tooth emerges from the gums in the wrong location. Instead of directly filling the space left by the absent baby tooth, an ectopic tooth erupts out of alignment from the rest of the dental arch and often grows at an angle. If your child has been diagnosed with an ectopic tooth at your local family dentistry clinic, what is likely to happen next?
Causes of Ectopic Tooth Development
Ectopic tooth formation can be traced back to the initial development of the tooth bud (the collection of cells from which a tooth forms and grows). Instead of being located in the upper portion of the gingival tissues to permit vertical eruption, the bud may instead have formed out of location, more towards the sides of the gums. This means that the adult tooth has erupted out of alignment, and can be classified as ectopic.
Parents needn't be alarmed when a dentist identifies ectopic tooth development. The condition is easily treated and isn't especially serious. The degree of misalignment of the ectopic tooth determines what treatment is most likely to yield results. Since ectopic teeth can develop due to a lack of available space in the jaw, this may need to be addressed. What might a dentist suggest?
The formation of your child's teeth is a work in progress. When the misalignment of the tooth is only minor, a dentist might suspect that the issue will correct itself, with the ectopic tooth realigning itself as your child's jaw grows to accommodate their adult teeth. Sometimes no treatment is required.
Expansion of the Jaw
When your child's jaw might need some assistance, they may require a procedure called palatal expansion. This involves an orthodontic appliance that helps to stretch the jaw, allowing it to accommodate all its adult teeth, ideally with an ectopic tooth then becoming self-correcting. This expansion is subtle, so it will not change the physical appearance of your child's face.
If the position of an ectopic tooth means that it's unlikely to be self-correcting, your child might be referred to an orthodontist. Braces may be needed to properly align the ectopic tooth in the dental arch.
An ectopic tooth may not even need treatment, but if it should need assistance to achieve the correct alignment, this assistance isn't complicated or invasive. To learn more, contact a local dentist.