This morning – my first day back at work after vacation – I got a rather desperate call from another dentist in town. He had been called by one of the pediatricians to see a baby with “natal” teeth. That is what teeth are called when a baby is born with them. These teeth are usually really loose. The roots haven’t developed yet so there is only a bit of skin holding them in and they wiggle all around. It makes nursing difficult and the doctors are always afraid that the baby will aspirate on of them and get into real trouble.
So this dentist is on call and the doctor calls him.
I could hear shades of panic in his voice as he talked.
This seems to have been the first time he had ever heard of babies being born with teeth. Wonder where he was during that lesson in school!
He had all sorts of concerns:
- that if he tried to take the teeth out at the hospital without all his equipment that he might be putting the baby at risk.
- that he might be putting himself at risk legally
- that this was not something which an ordinary dentist should be doing
- that he didn’t know if he could give a baby local anesthetic
- that he had never done this before and had never heard of it (this was repeated a few times)
Well, we just happen to have a student in the office this summer who I am sure will love to see a case of natal teeth. The parents will bring this tiny little newborn to our office, I will inject a couple drops of freezing and pop the little tiny teeth out. Very, very simple really. It is not as if this child will run away! In fact, when a baby is so small, they are pretty easy to get to sit still. We just wrap them up tightly like a little papoose. They don’t actually know what is coming till it is pretty much over.
And I have done this before. Pretty easy really.