Indeed, this is what recently occurred happened at Seven Trees Dental Access Centre in Plymouth, England. A patient there hit the headlines across the United Kingdom in early August 2018, such was the rarity of her condition.
The condition that faced the dentists on duty only occurs in 0.05% of people, according to statistics from the British Dental Association (BDA). Thankfully, though, those who had the job of fixing it were well prepared for the task at hand.
The patient at the heart of this story was Isla-Rose Heasman, who was taken to see dentists by her mum Jasmin. And the twist to this tale is that baby Isla-Rose was only 12 days old at the time.
The reason for Isla-Rose’s visit to the dentist was that she had been born with a tooth above her gumline. Unfortunately, this tiny tooth had to be removed from her mouth by dentists, after it emerged that it was wobbly.
This condition, known as having a “natal tooth,” is extremely rare, although it’s commonplace for these teeth to be very loose. That’s because the roots in a newborn child’s mouth are unlikely to have developed fully enough to support a tooth properly.
While it’s possible for natal teeth to stabilize after a few months, it’s also very common for them to fall out within the first year of child’s life. And if a natal tooth is unstable when a child is born, it’ll usually be removed by a dentist immediately in order to negate the danger of the tooth being swallowed.
Research suggests that between 33 and 66 per cent of natal teeth will fall out within a year if left untreated. However, in most cases, if they remain intact after four months, they’re unlikely to fall out prematurely. Moreover, there’s little chance that either case will change the odds of a child’s other teeth forming normally.
However, there still remains a chance that a baby’s health can be dramatically affected by a natal tooth. Professors at the BDA have suggested that a natal tooth can hamper breastfeeding or cause ulcers on a child’s tongue. Moreover, there is even a possibility of a dislodged tooth finding its way into an infant’s lungs.
Nevertheless, Isla-Rose’s parents were allowed to take their baby home from the hospital with her natal tooth intact. When she had to be taken to see a dentist so shortly afterwards, though, it was a worrying experience for mum Jasmin. Still, little Isla-Rose – pictured above with her aunty –showed courage that belied her tender age.
“I had to go out of the room crying because I couldn’t stand seeing my princess in pain,” Jasmin told the BBC. “She was braver than me, she didn’t really cry.” Thankfully, her little princess was in the safe hands of a dentist who’d already met her.
In fact, dentist Alla Jebur had met Isla-Rose on the day the baby was born, checking her tooth and giving the all-clear for her to be taken home. It was purely by chance that Jebur was once again on duty when the tot was brought in.
“I was on rotation at the hospital when Isla-Rose was born and was called in to check her when the maternity team noticed the tooth,” Jebur explained. “It was a lovely coincidence when I was the dentist on duty when the family arrived at the dental access center.”
The procedure needed to safely remove a natal tooth can potentially be quite painful for the patient. Isla-Rose wasn’t old enough to be put under anesthetic, so the dentist applied numbing cream to the area of the baby’s tiny mouth that was affected, in order to make the removal as painless as possible.
And despite her mum’s tears, Isla-Rose was as quiet as a mouse during most of her time with the dentist. The tooth was removed successfully and, ironically, it was mum Jasmin who cried more than the 12-day-old baby girl.
Seven Trees Dental Access Centre subsequently confirmed that tiny, brave Isla-Rose was the youngest patient to have been treated by its dentists. In recognition of her bravery, they presented her with a sticker and a card reading: “Today I Got My First Tooth.”
The record that Isla-Rose now holds is perhaps unsurprising, as most babies don’t begin teething until they are at least four months old. The average age is around six months, although it’s not uncommon for some children not to begin developing teeth after their first birthday.
Mum Jasmin certainly hadn’t foreseen having to rush to the dentist so soon after being discharged from hospital. She also said that she’d become accustomed to seeing her child’s single tooth, adding that Isla-Rose’s toothless mouth would take some getting used to.
This story suggests that it’s always worth checking the stability of your child’s teeth. Moreover, parents should be aware that it’s also possible for babies to develop neonatal teeth in the weeks following their birth. After these are removed or fall out, a normal set of baby teeth should eventually appear.
There have been no reports suggesting any further struggles for young Isla-Rose. The bravery that she showed should be commended, and credit should also be given to the staff at Seven Trees Dental Access Centre for their professionalism in these unusual circumstances.