Baby teeth begin to appear around six months and can remain until a child is 13 or 14. Baby teeth help children eat well, speak clearly and allow adult teeth to grow in properly.
Even though they will eventually be replaced by the permanent adult teeth, baby teeth are very important and should be well looked after, checked or fixed if there is a problem.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR BABY’S TEETH
Clean your baby’s gums and teeth twice a day. Use a smear of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice, and a soft facecloth or infant toothbrush. Be gentle – try distracting your baby with songs, talking or praise.
It’s best not to put your baby to bed with a bottle of anything but water. Milk, juice, and formula can cause serious tooth decay when left in a sleeping baby’s mouth.
Your child should start seeing a Pediatric Dentist regularly within six months of getting their first tooth, or by age one.
WHEN DO BABY TEETH COME IN?
According to the American Dental Association, here is an infographic on the order of appearance of the baby teeth.
A baby’s 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaws at birth and typically begin to appear when a baby is between 6 months and 1 year.
Most children have a full set of 20 primary teeth by the time they are 3. Check out this baby teeth eruption chart to see the order in which teeth break through and at what ages you can expect specific teeth to appear. Every child is different, but usually the first teeth to come in are located in the top and bottom front of their mouth.
When teeth first come in, some babies may have sore or tender gums. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad can be soothing. You can also give the baby a clean teething ring to chew on. If your child is still cranky and in pain, consult your dentist or physician.
WHY BABY TEETH MATTER
Here are five reasons why baby teeth should be taken care of just as we take care of our permanent (adult) teeth.
1. Tooth alignment and position – The primary teeth save space for the adult teeth and guide the adult teeth into their proper position. If the baby tooth is lost early due to tooth decay, the adjacent teeth tend to drift or tip into that space. Therefore, the permanent tooth has less room to come in and can be blocked from erupting into that space.
2. Healthy permanent teeth – The permanent teeth develop very close to the roots of the baby teeth. Baby teeth are much smaller and cavities can spread very quickly through their thin enamel. If cavities are left untreated, the baby tooth can develop an infection or abscess which can hinder tooth development and cause damage to the permanent tooth underneath.
3. Proper health and nutrition – Teeth, of course, are needed for chewing. Dental pain from cavities can lead to nutritional deficiencies if the child is not able to properly chew their food. Also, if cavities are left untreated, there is a great risk of an infection forming. And this infection can spread to other areas of the body and even to the brain. This can turn into an emergency situation very rapidly and the child may need to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, there have been reported cases where children have died from a dental abscess.
4. Speech and facial development – The tongue, lips, and cheeks deflect off teeth when forming sounds. The presence and proper positioning of baby teeth assist in the formation of correct pronunciation during a speech. The tooth structure also provides support for the developing facial muscles and gives shape to your child’s face.
5. Concentration and self-esteem – If a child is having dental pain, it can greatly affect their ability to pay attention and learn in school. Decayed teeth can also interfere with a child’s social interactions and affect their confidence and self-esteem. This can also lead to children missing school and parents having to miss work if they have to take children into the dentist for emergency appointments.
The bottom line: Teaching your child to develop good oral care habits with their primary teeth is very important! These early habits will help them keep those permanent teeth healthy for life!