Over-Retained Primary Teeth: A Guide – www.phkidsdentistry.com

Primary teeth are nothing more than baby teeth. Over-retained baby teeth are in longer than expected. Permanent teeth should come in no later than a year after loosing a primary tooth. Early removal or loss of a primary tooth may cause a delay in the permanent tooth coming in. Be sure to keep track of the loss and date of baby teeth for this reason.

Over-Retained Primary Teeth

If your child has over-retained primary teeth their oral health should be assessed by your pediatric dentist. There are many reasons for over-retained primary teeth, some more serious than others. For this reason it is important to get them evaluated as soon as possible. Over-retained teeth occur about 2.5 – 6.9 percent of the time. The most common reason is the absence of a primary tooth. It can also be caused by obstructions, misalignment’s, pathology, trauma, infection or bone fusion (anklyosis), just to name a few. Over-retained primary teeth can cause problems if left untreated.


If the primary tooth is missing, there may be others that are as well. Treatment options depends on the condition of the primary tooth and the teeth surrounding it. If the primary tooth is structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing, it can be kept. In that case it is important that your pediatric dentist works with your orthodontist so a treatment plan can be developed.

If the primary tooth is not aesthetically acceptable, it may be restored or reshaped.  If the tooth is crooked it may be extracted and the space closed with braces or replaced with a bridge or an implant. Implants have a high success rate too.


The reason for missing teeth is not completely known. There are many factors that may cause missing teeth. Factors such as genetics, trauma, infection, environmental factors and endocrine disorders are the most common. The most common missing permanent teeth are the mandibular second premolar followed by the maxillary lateral incisors. The most common over-retained primary teeth are the primary maxillary second molar followed by the maxillary primary canine. Due to the absence of permanent second premolars, the primary second molars will be over-retained. They usually remain until adulthood before needing removal.

It is very important to have your children’s baby teeth checked by a dental professional. Conditions such as over-retained primary teeth can be identified as early as possible and their outcome will be greatly improved!

Reference: colgate.com

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