Dr Preece, Church & Associates

Everything You Want to Know About Your Child’s Primary Teeth

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Do you have questions about your child’s developing smile? If so, today we’re going to talk about their teeth. Your infant’s primary teeth can appear as early as five months, and by the time they are one year old, they usually have sprouted six baby teeth (typically the top four teeth in the front and the bottom two). Their first teeth are mostly used for biting food and not for actual chewing, that is, until the molars show up, often during their second year. By the time your little one is three, all 20 of their baby teeth (10 on top and 10 on bottom) erupt in pairs – one on each side of the jaws – and stay put until your child turns six or seven.

When their teeth start to erupt, you can help soothe sore gums by rubbing gently with a cool, moist cloth or gauze, or have them bite on a cooled teething ring. If you are concerned about your child sucking their thumb or pacifier, just be sure they stop by the time they are two (or even earlier) as this can affect their bite by altering the position of the front teeth.

It’s important to remember that though they are temporary teeth, primary teeth are still essential for your child’s dental health as they are living tissues. Like their later permanent teeth to come, baby teeth have enamel, dentin, dental pulp with nerves and blood vessels, and tooth roots which anchor the tooth in the bone.

This means that primary teeth aren’t just temporary space holders for their permanent teeth, they actually play a crucial role in the development of your child’s smile. Losing baby teeth too soon can allow the surrounding teeth to shift and interfere with adult teeth trying to erupt. Primary teeth also help your child develop proper speech as their tongue and lips touch the teeth to enable them to pronounce words clearly. Primary teeth also allow good nutrition as they chew food and break it down for proper digestion.

You can take good care of their primary teeth to prevent decay by doing the following:

– Brush or clean teeth daily. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cleaning your child’s teeth with a rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to protect erupting teeth.
– Provide a nutritious diet for developing teeth and limit sugary foods and beverages.
– Take your baby to the dentist by the time they are one. Brush your child’s teeth until they are between six and eight years old as then they will have developed the manual dexterity necessary to brush teeth correctly. You can teach them healthy habits by letting them start the brushing process and you finish it.

Primary teeth start to fall out around the age of six as permanent molars erupt in the back of the mouth. By the time they are eight, your child’s permanent teeth may erupt in the front and by the time they are 13 their remaining adult teeth come in, the last being their third molars or wisdom teeth.

If you have any questions about your child’s developing oral health or want to make an appointment for them with our caring dentist, please give our friendly team a call. We look forward to helping you build a healthy foundation for your child’s smile!