When will your child’s first tooth erupt? When will they lose their first tooth? How many teeth will erupt and at what ages? Will all their baby teeth be lost at once? These are all questions that you may have as a concerned parent. Many of these questions can be answered by simply learning a little about baby teeth. While no one expects you to be your child’s personal dental expert, here are some things that every parent should know about baby teeth:
When they erupt and fall out
To make sure your child’s teeth and jaw are developing properly, it is important to know when to expect baby teeth to erupt and when to expect them to start falling out. In most cases, babies will have their first tooth begin to erupt between the ages of 6 months and 1 year of age. The bottom two incisors are usually the first and second tooth to erupt, followed by the top two incisors. You can use an eruption chart to make sure that your child’s teeth are erupting in the right order at the correct age. By the age of 2 or 3, your child should have all 20 baby teeth.
In addition to knowing when to expect the eruption of certain baby teeth, it is also important to know when these baby teeth should fall out. In most cases, you can expect your child’s baby teeth to fall out in the same order that they erupted. This means that the first teeth lost will be the lower incisors and so on and so forth. When baby teeth are lost too soon, this can cause problems with the eruption of permanent teeth.
What their purpose is
Many people don’t understand why humans are born with two sets of teeth, especially since the second set lasts almost our entire life, while the first set only lasts a few years. Although baby teeth only last a few years, these teeth play a vital role in your child’s future dental health. For starters, baby teeth allow your child to chew, smile, and speak properly. Not only that, but baby teeth are intended to be smaller than permanent teeth and are slightly spaced out in order to maintain the necessary amount of space for permanent teeth.
How to care for them
Luckily, caring for baby teeth is not much different than caring for your own teeth. To care for your child’s teeth, you will need to help them brush twice a day and floss once a day. Very young infants can be kept healthy by gently whipping their gums, while children younger than 3 years should only have a tiny smear of toothpaste, and children 3-6 can have a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. However, you will need to monitor your child until they are old enough not to swallow the toothpaste.
Their shape can be distorted by bad habits
Children who suck their thumbs or fingers past the age of 5 are placing excess force on their front teeth. This can cause the front teeth to protrude from the mouth in a phenomenon known as “buck teeth”. Additionally, finger-sucking can damage a child’s bite as well. Usually children with protruding teeth and/or an improper bite will need orthodontic treatment at some point.
Susceptible to decay
Your child’s baby teeth are just as susceptible to becoming decayed as your permanent teeth. In fact, it has been found that as many as 40% of children have one or more teeth cavities in their baby teeth. There are several ways that a cavity may form, but one common way is through the excess consumption of sugars. This is exceptionally common in young children who frequently carry bottles filled with juice or even soft drinks and is known as baby bottle decay. Another way cavities can form is through poor oral hygiene.
Dr. Marielena Torres is board certified and is constantly continuing her education to stay informed of the latest developments in pediatric dentistry. This allows her to offer patients and their parents the most cutting-edge care and education.