We all know that we need to take care of our teeth because they serve vital functions for regular activities, like eating, speaking, and smiling. But considering baby teeth are going to fall out anyway, do parents really need to take as much effort to care for them? Though it may seem like an aimless pursuit, it is very important to take care of baby teeth. Before they fall out, they retain space for adult teeth and stimulate bone growth for the jaw and face. That’s why baby teeth need just as much attention as adult teeth!
How do baby teeth erupt?
Now that you’re aware of the importance of baby teeth, you may be anxious to know when your infant’s teeth will erupt. Every baby is different, so the timeline varies with each individual. Generally speaking, most babies are born with 20 teeth and they start to show around 6 months to 1 year of age. Here’s what you can expect:
- 6 – 8 months: Lower central incisors
- 8 – 12 months: Upper central incisors
- 10 – 14 months: Upper lateral incisors
- 10 – 16 months: Lower lateral incisors
- 14 – 19 months: Upper and lower molars
- 16 – 24 months: Upper and lower canines
- 25 – 33 months: Final upper molars
Once the first few teeth start to show, it’s a good idea to take your tot to the pediatric dentist! It’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists to bring your child to a professional by the age of 1 or when the first tooth sprouts, whichever comes first. The pediatric dentist can give you advice about how to best take care of your child’s new teeth. You can expect to go over the family oral health history, a dental exam, nutritional counseling, and dental care guidance.
At the pediatric dentist’s office, parents will learn about good dental habits for their babies and how to brush their teeth. Even if your baby is mostly gums at this point, it’s still important to keep the mouth clean with soft, baby-sized brush and toothpaste. The pediatric dentist will show you what works for babies and what to avoid as their teeth develop and needs change.
Should baby teeth have gaps?
Many parents are concerned that their baby’s teeth are growing in with gaps. If the gaps are small and evenly spaced, this can actually be beneficial for adult teeth growing in later on! The gaps will give your child’s adult teeth extra space to grow in, so they don’t overlap or crowd.
Gaps that are too large or uneven, however, could be a concern for parents. If it becomes difficult to eat or clean the teeth because of these gaps, they could lead to bigger problems, like a nutritional deficiency or tooth decay. Irregularly spaced teeth could affect the way permanent teeth grow in, making them overlap or crowd. In order to avoid these problems, take your child to an early orthodontic screening by the age of 7. At this point, all of the teeth should have grown in and the orthodontist can evaluate whether any action needs to be taken preemptively to ensure the permanent teeth develop properly.
Are baby teeth more susceptible to cavities?
Baby teeth are not more susceptible to cavities. They’re made just like adult teeth, with pulp, dentin, and enamel. Children may get more cavities because of bad habits, like drinking bottles before bed or eating too many sweets. In fact, tooth decay is the most prevalent disease in children, even though it can be easily prevented.
To keep your child cavity-free, establish a dental hygiene routine for your child early on. When baby teeth are exposed to bacteria and sugar, a sticky residue called plaque is formed that can damage the teeth with harmful acids. To protect the teeth, brush twice a day or after every meal and floss every night. Dentists also recommend drinking plenty of water to flush away food debris and consuming calcium-rich foods. Once your child reaches a certain age, you can also start giving them fluoridated products with the pediatric dentist’s recommendation.
When do baby teeth fall out?
Baby teeth can start falling out as early as the age of 6 and continues until the age of 12 or 13 latest. Teeth usually fall out in the same pattern that they grew in. When a tooth becomes “wobbly”, your child may have trouble eating or speaking like usual because the tooth is loose. You can help your child alleviate the pain by gargling salt water and avoiding eating where the tooth is loose. If you notice the permanent tooth growing in before the baby tooth is lost, consider seeing your pediatric dentist to remove the baby tooth.
If your child’s tooth is knocked out early, see the dentist immediately! The doctor may be able to reattach the tooth. Teeth that are lost early can lead to the improper development and spacing of adult teeth. To avoid dental emergencies like this, try to protect your child’s teeth as best as possible with mouthguards and safety gear when they play sports. Of course, some accidents are impossible to predict, but it doesn’t hurt to be extra careful when you can!
How do I care for my child’s primary teeth?
Cavities, broken teeth, and gum disease aren’t just annoying and painful, they’re bad for your child’s overall health. Taking care of your child’s teeth is something you need to teach your child. While you may be able to brush for them early on, you can’t do that forever! Children must learn how to maintain good dental hygiene on their own. Here are a few tips:
- Be a good role model: Children learn how to talk and act by observing their parents or guardians at an early age. The best way to teach your children good dental habits is by practicing them yourself. They’re much more likely to do as you do than as you say. Make time to brush and floss with them every day and encourage them to eat tooth-healthy foods with you.
- Visit the pediatric dentist regularly: The pediatric dentist will be able to identify, treat, and prevent dental problems before they become serious. Most patients should see the dentist twice a year or every six months, but that can change depending on the situation. Schedule regular appointments at the dentist for your child, so they can maintain their healthy teeth with a thorough dental exam and routine cleaning.
- Curb bad habits early on: Drinking from bottles before bed, forgetting to brush, and sucking on pacifiers are a few types of bad habits that should be eliminated early on. Over time, these seemingly harmless habits can lead to misaligned teeth, white spots (Turner’s Tooth), cavities, and gum disease. Don’t let them manifest!
Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry is a pediatric dental practice dedicated to providing children for strong, healthy teeth for years to come. Our pediatric dentist believes in building a strong patient/provider relationship early on, so children can feel comfortable coming in for appointments. If your child is in need of a dental checkup, give us a call at our Alpharetta office! We’re happy to help.
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