There are many superstitions in the world about babies born with teeth. Do these superstitions have any reality in them, or are they just people’s beliefs? We cannot give a satisfactory answer. However, this article will help you understand the science behind babies born with teeth superstition. Rest is up to you to believe in any superstition about babies born with teeth.
Is it normal for a baby to have teeth at birth?
Teeth erupt between 4 to 7 months after birth. This eruption is regarded as a milestone in monitoring the growth and development of the baby. But if a baby is born with teeth, it will surprise you. However, teeth at birth, or natal teeth, are typically few in number. Often it is one tooth (central incisor in 80%) but never a complete set. This is a normal phenomenon and happens 1 in every 2,000 births.
There is nothing to worry about unless the teeth are hindering feeding or there is a risk of choking. Although you can have your baby born with teeth, your pediatrician should be the one to make medical decisions about it.
Some babies aren’t born with teeth; however, they develop teeth within the first 28 days of life. These are called neonatal teeth and occur 1 in every 30,000 births.
The real reason behind natal teeth
The reason behind the natal teeth is still unclear. Some call it a genetic variation, and others associate it with development syndromes. However, the debate is still open. Here are some common theories regarding natal teeth:
- The rate of teeth eruption is controlled by an autosomal dominant gene which can be a factor in the eruption of teeth inside the womb.
- Endocrine abnormalities like overproduction of hormones from pituitary, thyroid glands, or gonads can cause the development of teeth inside the womb.
- Some studies have shown the over-activity of osteoblasts in the respective teeth area.
- Similarly, infections like congenital syphilis or hypovitaminosis can cause early teeth eruption.
- Those who advocate that natal teeth are part of development syndromes associate it with syndromes like; Ellis-van, Pierre-Robin, Wiedemann-Rautenstrauch, and Walker-Warburg.
Baby born with teeth superstition
Although you can find a ton of scientific knowledge proving the normality of natal teeth, ordinary people have their own beliefs. That’s why we come across many superstitions about babies born with teeth. Most of them make no sense whatsoever, but people believe in them, and you can’t argue with that. Here are some popular superstitions regarding babies born with teeth.
First documentation in history
The story of the baby born with teeth superstition goes back to the first time the natal teeth were documented in the history by Titus Livius in 59 BC. He believed that the male infant born with natal teeth has a splendid future waiting ahead.
In Malaysian culture, people have a similar superstition about babies born with teeth. They believe that babies born with natal teeth will bring good fortune to the community.
In England, natal teeth are considered the sign of the great warriors and conquerors of the future. And even Shakespeare, in his work, has pointed out the superstition of King Richard being a great warrior with his natal teeth.
However, you will not find such an appreciation for them in every part of the world. In China, there is a belief that natal teeth will bring bad omen. Unfortunately, some people even refer to such babies as monsters.
India, Poland, and Africa
In contrast to other places, countries like India, Poland, and Africa have extreme superstitions regarding babies born with teeth. They believe that the baby will bring misfortune to the community. There are cases where they even killed such babies in their early days.
Some famous names
We also find some famous personalities worldwide who were born with natal teeth and made their name. These names include; Napoleon, Hannibal, Richard the third, and Louis the fourteenth.
Baby born with teeth superstition: Reality vs. Truth
According to some superstitions, babies born with teeth are fortunate children and brave warriors of the world. However, other superstitions in different parts of the world consider them unfortunate and even picture them as monsters. So the question is, “is there any reality behind these superstitions?”
The answer is not straightforward. Although there is no scientific reasoning or data behind this, people have believed in these superstitions for centuries. It is hard to tell whether these superstitions hold any data or sprung merely from people’s beliefs at the time of development.
Today, science has made a lot of advancements. It has failed to find any connection between natal teeth and these superstitions. We strongly recommend you not believe in any superstitions about babies born with teeth.
Complications of natal teeth
Natal teeth are generally safe and do not harm the baby or the mother. However, they can cause certain complications. These include:
Natal teeth aren’t the strongest of the teeth and carry a significant movement, making these teeth vulnerable to dislodging and choking the baby’s airway.
Difficulty in feeding
Babies born with teeth tend to refuse feeding either because of pain or difficulty feeding.
Ulceration of tongue
Coldrallin made a critical observation on the tongue of babies born with teeth and was the first person to document the tongue ulceration caused by natal teeth. This disease is called Riga-Fede disease, after the name of the scientists who gave the explanation for it.
Ulceration of nipple
A baby can ulcerate the nipple while feeding. This can be really painful for the mother leading to feeding problems.
A pediatrician can surgically remove these natal teeth in case of complications or risk of choking. However, you cannot make this decision based on any superstition.