Eight-year-old Zak Brown, a resident of Leeds, West Yorkshire, has acquired an interesting childhood nickname that he isn’t likely to forget anytime soon — when Zak’s friends found out that he had not just one set of teeth, but two, they dubbed him “Jaws,” after the shark in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 movie. These underwater creatures naturally have two sets of teeth at all times. Unlike Zak, they don’t get much media coverage because of it.
This (human) phenomenon of having two rows of teeth at once is aptly called “pediatric shark teeth” (a very scientific name, for sure). The online U.K. publication Mirror notes that the shark teeth occurrence could affect as many as one in every 10 children — although incidents of pediatric shark teeth usually aren’t as severe as Zak’s.
Usually, when an adult tooth begins to grow in, it will push out the baby tooth that it is replacing. However, if the adult tooth doesn’t put enough pressure on the baby tooth or is unable to push the original tooth out, it will begin to grow behind or next to the baby tooth.
In most children, a shark tooth incident will result in an adult tooth growing in at a slanted angle, and a special dentist visit might be required to remove the baby tooth. Zak’s case is very unique, however, since it’s rare that so many adult teeth fail to push out the baby teeth, creating an entire second row of teeth.
Despite the dramatic name, having pediatric shark teeth isn’t necessarily a serious dental issue, and as Zak’s mother has assured concerned parents everywhere, this condition doesn’t hurt at all (although Zak has noted a bit of frustration because he has to brush his teeth for twice as long).
Especially considering that the dental industry has a panoply of advanced techniques to treat all kinds of tooth problems, a shark tooth occurrence is far from permanent. In severe cases like Zak’s, it may be necessary to spend near the average $5,000-$6,000 bill that a normal patient would accrue from cosmetic dental treatments — but dentists are very familiar with shark teeth, and the procedures that Zak will undergo in the future will be fairly normal procedures with very little risk involved.
But until Zak’s dentist approves those procedures, it appears that he’ll be living up to his “Jaws” nickname — and luckily, he doesn’t seem to mind the comparison at all.
Humans have 20 primary teeth that appear during childhood and serve as the basis for the 32 adult or permanent that will appear later in life. The first childhood teeth will usually start to come in between 6 months and a year after birth, with all of them usually visible before the age of 3. The first to appear will be the incisors, located on the lower jaw. These will be followed by the molars and the pointed cuspids. The first visit to a kids dentist should take place at about 1 year old. In following ADA brushing guidelines, childhood teeth require such attention twice a day.
The advantages and disadvantages of brushing teeth range from the accumulation of plaque if not done enough to damage to the enamel and gums if done too much. Around 6 years is the age children’s teeth fall out and are then replaced by the permanent teeth. Childhood teeth will fall out in about the same order in which they came in, starting with the incisors. Permanent teeth will never be replaced, which means having concern about your teeth should become a part of your normal health routine.
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