Baby teeth fall out at various points during childhood to allow the permanent teeth to move into place. Each tooth should fall out at a predetermined time, and if your child's baby teeth aren't falling out on schedule, you may be worried. Here are three things parents need to know about over-retained baby teeth.

What causes over-retained baby teeth?

When a baby tooth isn't replaced with a permanent tooth on schedule, many factors can be to blame. In some cases, the permanent tooth is congenitally missing, so there's nothing to force the baby tooth out of place. In other cases, the teeth are crowded, and there's not enough room for the permanent tooth to move upward and force the baby tooth out of place. Of course, it's also possible that your child is just developing a bit slower than other kids; there may be nothing wrong with their teeth at all. A dentist will be able to let you know why your child's baby teeth aren't falling out on time.

Are over-retained baby teeth harmful?

When a baby tooth doesn't fall out on schedule, the permanent tooth underneath it can't erupt normally. The permanent tooth may be forced to erupt in front or behind the baby tooth, giving your child two rows of teeth. This phenomenon is known as "shark's teeth." Orthodontic treatment may be required to shift the permanent teeth into the appropriate positions if they erupted when the baby teeth were still in place.

How do dentists treat over-retained baby teeth?

The treatment for over-retained baby teeth varies depending on the cause. If there's room for the permanent tooth to erupt, but the baby tooth just isn't falling out on it's own, extraction may be performed. The dentist will first numb the area with an injection of local anesthetic, but if your child is very scared of the procedure, sedation may also be provided to help them relax. The tooth will then be loosened and removed. After the procedure, your child may have some mild pain and bleeding from the socket, and they'll need to be supervised for a little while to make sure everything's okay.

If the teeth are too crowded and the permanent tooth can't erupt, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to free up the space.

If your child's baby teeth are stubbornly remaining in place, take them to a dentist to find out whether anything is wrong. If necessary, treatment can be performed.