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Steph Yap
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from Singapore asked a question

Will my child’s teeth straighten out naturally as they grow?

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National Dental Centre Dental Paediatric Dentistry

My 5-year-old boy has quite messy teeth. Will his teeth straighten out as they grow?

DOCTOR’S ANSWER (1)

Hi Steph,

At age 5, your child would just be beginning to transit to adult teeth and may have a mixture of small baby teeth and larger adult teeth. The adult teeth may also grow from the tongue side on the lower jaw and slowly drift forwards to its final destination.

Having two rows of teeth, one being the baby teeth and the other adult teeth, can look quite messy. Rest assured that this process of transition is normal. However, whether the adult teeth will straighten out on its own will depend on some of these factors:

1. Available space for the adult teeth

Teeth need space in order to sit straight, baby teeth are smaller in width than the adult teeth, so although the baby teeth may be straight and neat, the space it leaves behind for the adult teeth may not be sufficient. The adult teeth may have trouble finding the right amount of space to sit straight. Ideally there should be some spacing between the baby teeth, so that the adult teeth will have ample room to grow into the mouth.

2. Timely exit of baby teeth

The baby teeth hold the space for the adult teeth and sometimes the baby teeth may not drop out in time for the adult teeth to occupy its space. This creates an obstruction for the adult teeth and may cause the adult teeth to grow out crooked to avoid this obstruction. If you notice the baby teeth has been loose for quite some time, it may be helpful for the child to see a dentist to assess if the baby teeth need help to exit.

 3. Position of the adult tooth

Sometimes the adult tooth bud may not grow out in its correct location. The adult tooth bud refers to the adult tooth in its early development stage, each tooth bud should sit above and slightly behind its baby tooth predecessor however sometimes they don’t line up properly and may get “lost” as it grows out.

At 5 years old, the adult teeth are still finding its way into the mouth, so it would be good to monitor and observe the changes.Visit the dentist at least once a year and your dentist should be able to ascertain if everything is on track!

Dr Elaine Tan

Consultant, Department of Orthodontics

National Dental Centre Singapore

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