Dealing With Ankylosis In One Of Your Child’s Teeth

Ankylosis is a relatively rare dental condition that occurs when a tooth fuses to its surrounding jawbone through the gum tissue instead of erupting normally. The tooth is typically anchored to your jaw by bone and acts similarly to a dental implant. Unlike a dental implant, however, ankylosis in a child's primary teeth can cause significant cosmetic and structural damage to the permanent teeth behind and around it, and it can be difficult to catch before extensive corrections are needed. 

Recognizing the Early Signs of Ankylosis

An ankylosed primary tooth may first be noticed after it fails to erupt fully. Where the teeth around it will emerge and quickly reach their intended length, the ankylosed tooth will remain stuck in place. An observant dentist will notice this irregularity during a routine dental exam. This condition can quickly be double checked by simply tapping the suspected tooth and the teeth around it with a metal dental implement. Because an ankylosed tooth is anchored to the jaw, it will resonate differently and produce a lower tone than a normal tooth. 

Assessing the Severity of the Ankylosed Tooth

Once the tooth has been confirmed as ankylosed, your dentist will assess its likelihood of leading to significant problems. In many cases, these troublesome teeth will not fall out as planned and instead block the progress of the permanent tooth below. If the teeth around it also catch on it as they erupt, it can quickly lead to a smile full of crooked teeth. On the other hand, removing a primary tooth can also lead to gaps and incorrect permanent teeth positioning later on, making this a difficult choice that must be assessed individually. 

Monitoring the Eruption of Primary Teeth

If your child's tooth developed ankylosis relatively late in its eruption process, your dentist may prefer to wait and see if it causes issues before removing it. It is possible that the permanent tooth below will exert enough pressure to break the anchor and push the tooth out on its own, requiring no further intervention. If, on the other hand, the primary tooth remains in place and the teeth around it begin to distort, action must be taken quickly to save your child's smile. 

Extracting an Ankylosed Tooth 

Although dentists usually try to save primary teeth whenever possible, the health of the permanent tooth in waiting should take precedence. An ankylosed tooth that shows no signs of resolving itself will need to be extracted in order to protect your child's bite as an adult. In cases where the ankylosis was not caught quickly or was allowed to progress too far, you may need to invest in orthodontics when your child is older. Thankfully, once the tooth in question is removed, your child's teeth should be free to grow in normally, with only minimal guidance necessary to bring them back into their proper alignment. 

For more information, contact Smile City or a similar organization.