Seems our patient family is growing. We’ve had a number of patients with new babies and we have been getting this question alot lately, so I thought it a good topic for this blog…
Though you lose them early in life, your primary teeth, also called baby teeth, are essential in the development and placement of your permanent teeth. Primary teeth maintain the spaces where permanent teeth will erupt. Without maintenance of these spaces, crowding can occur, resulting in complications later in life. Primary teeth also help develop proper speech patterns. It is important to take care of your child’s primary teeth, even though primary teeth last only a few years. Decay, cavities and infection can take its toll and may require expensive treatment to repair. Baby teeth also are primers for teaching your child good oral care habits.
When do baby teeth come in?
Your child’s primary teeth generally make their appearance when he or she is 6 or 7 months old, though it can occur as early as birth. There are 20 primary teeth, followed by 32 permanent teeth that will eventually replace them. Generally, your child should have all his or her primary teeth at age 3 and will keep them until age 6 or 7, when they begin to loosen and fall out. This process usually lasts until the child is 12 or 13. Wisdom teeth, that grow behind the permanent teeth, usually erupt between the ages of 16 and 20.
What can relieve my child’s discomfort during teething?
Between the ages of 6 months and 3 years, your child may experience sore gums and general oral discomfort as primary teeth erupt. While some lucky children experience no apparent discomfort during eruption, many others do. Signs that eruption is causing discomfort in your child include crankiness, lack of appetite, excessive drooling, restless behavior, pink or red cheeks, coughing, upset stomach and chewing or sucking of fingers and toys. There are ways you can bring your child relief. A cold, wet cloth for your baby to suck on can sooth gums. There are also teething accessories and toys your child can chew on to relieve discomfort. Thumb sucking also brings relief, however, dentists recommend this practice should cease upon the arrival of the first permanent teeth, so it does not interfere with the normal development of a child’s oral cavity.
You should wipe your baby’s gums with a soft washcloth or soft infant toothbrush and water each day. Introduce fluoridated toothpaste at about age 2. Although baby teeth tend to be well spaced it is a good idea to introduce floss early as it helps establish the habit for later in life.
In addition to early oral hygiene, you may be able to help decrease your baby’s risk of later getting cavities if you:
- don’t share utensils, cups, or toothbrushes, since that might help spread the bacteria that can cause cavities from your mouth to your baby’s mouth
- avoiding giving your baby too much fruit juice, and no fruit juice before six months, or any fruit drinks
- ask your dentist about fluoride suppliments
- don’t let your baby fall asleep with a bottle of formula or frequently nursing at night once he or she has teeth
In addition to learning to care for their baby’s gums and teeth, one of the easiest things that parents can do for their kids is take care of their own oral hygiene and regular visit their dentist to make sure their own teeth are healthy.