Oral pathology in newborn infants

1)      Epstein pearls:

They are whitish yellow nodules found in the midline of your infant’s palate (the roof of your mouth).  The nodules are around 1 to 3mm in size. Do not worry as they are just a result of epithelial tissues trapped during the fusion of the palate. There is no treatment needed if your baby has Epstein pearls as they will disappear within 1 to 2 weeks of birth.


2)      Bohn’s  nodules:

Bohn nodules are remnants of dental lamina (cells which are involved in tooth development)

They are normally found on the labial (front) or buccal aspect of the upper alveolar ridge. Similar to Epstein pearls, there is no form of treatment needed and they will disappear over time.

For your information,

Both Epstein pearls and Bohn’s nodules are often mistaken as neonatal teeth.

3)      Congenital epulis

They are benign and pedunculated in nature. They arise from the gingival crest and they are normally present in the upper arch of newborn infants. They occur more among female infants and the etiology of the condition is still unknown.  Although congenital epulis is benign in nature, it can still interfere and induce feeding and breathing problems among infants.  Surgery is the best option to remove congenital epulis and often demonstrates spontaneous regression.

4)      Neonatal teeth

Natal teeth are teeth which are present in the oral cavity at the time of birth where as neonatal teeth erupt during 30 days of life.  They might resemble normal primary teeth in terms of size and shape. However, they can be smaller, yellowish and root formation of the teeth may not be completed during the time of eruption. The lack of root development at this stage can usually cause the mobility of the neonatal tooth. Babies who have neonatal  teeth are often associated with syndromes such as cleft lip and palate. Neonatal teeth can be removed easily with a cloth if they are interfering with your breast feeding. For more information on neonatal teeth, please click http://www.intelligentdental.com/2012/04/06/neonatal-teeth/

5)      Melanotic neuroectodermal tumour

This is a rare tumour found in newborns which is derived from neural crest cells. Diagnosis is made when there are circumscribed swellings with the appearance of primary incisor.

Normally a CT scan is needed to confirm the presence of melanotic neuroectodermal tumour.

Usually the treatment for melanotic neuroectodermal tumour is surgical excision.


Other dental problems among infants:

1)      Ankyloglossia /tongue tied

Ankyloglossia is characterized by short, thick band of tissue which connects the tip of tongue to the floor of mouth and restricts the movement of tongue.  Breast feeding can be a problem in infants with ankyloglossia due to restricted tongue movement laterally.  This may lead to nipple pain and trauma, poor intake of breast milk and lack of weight gain over time. In this case, neonatal frenectomy may be necessary to correct the breast feeding problem.

2)      Cleft lip/palate

They are birth defects affecting the mid facial region. Patients with cleft lip might have a small notch on the lip or a wide opening which involves the lip and the palate ( the roof of your mouth)

Click here to read more on cleft lip/palate