Infant Tooth Eruption
A child’s teeth start forming before they’re even born. The primary teeth will push through the gums as early as 4 months – the lower central incisors are first, followed by the upper central incisors. The remaining primary teeth (totaling 20) normally erupt by age 3, but the place and order varies by child.
Secondary teeth begin to erupt at around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process will continue until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary teeth, or 32 including the third molars, commonly known as wisdom teeth.
Children normally get their first tooth between the ages of 6 and 12 months. Starting from this time, and lasting until about the age of 3, gums will be sore, tender, and sometimes irritable. To help with soothing, rub sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon, or a cold, wet cloth. Teething rings also work, but avoid teething biscuits as they contain sugar and are therefore detrimental to baby teeth.
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants can be minimized – or even completely prevented – by not allowing babies to breast or bottle-feed as they sleep. Like in adults, sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque and form acids that attack the tooth enamel. Teeth are vulnerable every time a child drinks liquids containing sugar, as the acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When the child is awake, the liquid is carried away by saliva. However, during sleep, saliva flow decreases significantly and liquids then are able to pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.
If an infant should need a bottle to fall asleep, use a bottle filled with water or a pacifier. Let us know of any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth. It is important to monitor teeth as they develop for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. Pay special attention to the inside or tongue side of the teeth.
Why Primary Teeth Are Important
There are several reasons why primary teeth are important in a child’s dental development. First, good teeth allow a child to eat properly and therefore maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth also allow for clear pronunciation and other good speech habits and contribute to a child’s self-image. Finally, primary teeth are vital to the development of the jaws and help to guide the eruption of permanent teeth at around age 6.
Infant’s New Teeth
Because one of the purposes of baby teeth is to guide permanent teeth into place, infants with missing baby teeth or who prematurely lose them may require a space maintainer. This is a device used to hold the natural space open and keep other teeth from tilting toward the empty space, which can cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. Like with other medical histories, you should mention any missing teeth to your family dentist. Regular care and dental check-ups are just as important for children as they are for adults in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Parents should also teach children to adopt a healthy oral hygiene regimen from a young age as these practices will carry on after their permanent teeth come in.
A Child’s First Dental Visit
The first dental visit should be scheduled around a child’s first birthday. The most important part of this visit is getting to know the doctor and becoming comfortable with him or her and their staff. A successful first visit will be pleasant and comfortable, building trust and helping to put the child at ease for future visits. If possible, the child should be allowed to sit in a parent’s lap in the exam room. They should also be encouraged to express any fears or anxiety that they feel.
Good Diet and Healthy Teeth
To maintain healthy teeth, bones, and soft tissue of the mouth, children require a healthy and well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from all five food groups helps to minimize (and possibly avoid altogether) cavities along with other dental problems. Most snacks targeted for children cause cavities (as they’re high in sugars and carbohydrates), so the best snacks for youngsters are healthy foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and cheeses, which promote strong teeth because of the calcium they contain.