Tests & Procedures



Natal Teeth

Epstein's Pearls

Epstein's pearls are a type of benign cyst (fluid-filled sac) that occur on the roof of the infant's mouth. They are small, white bumps that are commonly seen in infants. Epstein's pearls are harmless and do not require treatment. The cysts will improve over a period of weeks, in most cases.

What are natal teeth?

Natal teeth are teeth that are present when the infant is born. About one in every 2,000 newborn infants have natal teeth. These are not the same as neonatal teeth that erupt in the infant's mouth during the first month of life. Natal teeth are often loose because the root is not completely developed. Problems that may occur as a result of these teeth include the following:

  • Problems with breastfeeding, as the infant may bite the mother
  • Injury to the infant's tongue
  • Potential risk of the infant inhaling the tooth into his or her airway and lungs if the tooth becomes dislodged

Diagnosis of natal teeth

Natal teeth are usually diagnosed based on a complete history and physical examination of your infant. The teeth can be seen and usually allow for a diagnosis simply on physical exam. Your infant's doctor or dentist may also order X-rays (a diagnostic test which uses invisible electromagnetic radiationto produce images of internal tissues, bones, teeth, and organs onto film) of the infant's mouth to help in the evaluation of the problem. Incomplete root formation could be seen on the X-rays.

Management of natal teeth

Teeth that are loose may need to be removed to decrease the risk of the infant inhaling the tooth into his or her airways. They may also be removed if damage is occuring to the infant's tongue. This will be decided by your infant's doctor or dentist.

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Last reviewed: 3/31/2013