An Animated Smile? What You Need to Know About Germinated Teeth

Posted on: 24 September 2018

Are your kids amongst the many fans of the movie Frozen? A lot of people love that film, which introduced the world to the adventures of the enchanted Elsa and her sister Anna, not to mention the comic-relief snowman, Olaf. Take a good look at Olaf. Did you ever notice that his prominent front teeth are in fact a prominent front tooth? While it's just the way the animators designed the character, Olaf appears to suffer from tooth germination, which is also known as having double teeth. This is when two teeth grow from a single tooth bud, essentially creating a double tooth. Though not hugely common, it's not unheard of, and the necessary treatment (if any) will vary depending on the placement of the germinated tooth and whether it has occurred in temporary (baby) teeth or in permanent adult teeth.

In Baby Teeth

The appearance of a germinated tooth will be very obvious, and your child's dentist will notice it as soon as the teeth begin to erupt from the gums. It warrants close monitoring, and this will determine what additional action is required. The germinated tooth has the potential to impede the development of neighbouring teeth, causing them to grow at an improper angle. And yet if this is not the case, your dentist might opt to leave a temporary germinated tooth in position until it falls out when it's due to be replaced with permanent teeth (which ideally will not be germinated). It might also be that your dentist decides to extract the germinated tooth shortly before the adult teeth are expected to grow so that both underlying teeth can emerge correctly. If extraction is recommended, your dentist may use a space maintainer until your child's adult teeth emerge.

In Adult Teeth

A permanent germinated tooth is a different matter. Again, it might not cause problems for its neighbouring teeth, and if it's not prominent in the mouth (such as a germinated rear molar), then it could be left as-is. And yet if the germinated tooth is likely to cause overcrowding or if it's in an obvious position, further action is needed.

If a root canal is possible, this might be recommended. Your dentist then has the ability to surgically separate the teeth, essentially dividing the germinated tooth into two teeth, and then reshaping them as necessary. Dental crowns might also be needed to ensure the shape and strength of these newly created teeth. When a root canal cannot be performed, it might be suggested that the germinated tooth be extracted and then replaced with dental implants (or a denture).

So while it's not a common issue, a germinated tooth that is likely to cause problems will still require action. After all, you don't want your children to have a smile like an animated snowman.