1 October, 2021


Why are Baby Teeth Extracted?

Why are Baby Teeth Extracted?

During an early orthodontic exam your orthodontist will conduct a thorough clinical exam as well as evaluate a panoramic x-ray. This x-ray gives your doctor a lot of information such as the presence/absence of adult teeth and checking the ‘eruption path’ of adult teeth. In this blog post I am going to specifically address ‘eruption path’ as it relates to adult teeth.

What is eruption path?

Ideally adult teeth are positioned in such a way that they are developing directly underneath the baby tooth they are meant to replace. When this happens properly the adult tooth dissolves the baby tooth root. The baby tooth, as the root shortens, becomes loose and eventually falls out. It is then replaced with the adult tooth. When the adult tooth is not in a proper eruption path, and is not resorbing away the baby tooth root, problems can arise. The most common problem is the adult tooth not erupting into the mouth. When adult teeth do not erupt they are called ‘impacted’.

Impacted teeth have many downsides, one of which is that they can resorb the root of another adult tooth. To avoid this situation simply removing the baby tooth often allows that ‘off-course’ adult tooth to self-correct. In addition to baby teeth removal adjunctive procedures like expansion are often recommended. See below at the change in the adult teeth one year after extraction of baby teeth.

If your child is not seen for an early orthodontic exam there is an increased chance of tooth impaction. Impacted teeth can be dealt with during comprehensive treatment but this results in a longer time in braces with other procedures such as surgical uncovering of the impacted tooth.

As you can see baby teeth can be removed for a specific purpose – to allow self-correction of incoming adult teeth. Other times baby teeth are removed because they are not becoming loose despite normal eruption of adult teeth. These cases the baby teeth are called ‘over-retained’ and they just simply will not fall out. Removing the baby teeth will allow the adult teeth to come in on their own, often times without further intervention.

Thank you and be sure to see your dentist and orthodontist early to prevent these easy to prevent problems from ever arising.