Baby teeth: a short summaryMarch 9, 2020 12:15 pm
Many people dismiss baby teeth as just the precursors to the adult set, but the truth is they are very important in their own right. Baby teeth or milk teeth help speech, smiling and eating, and help adult teeth develop in the right way. Without them, your child could experience real problems. So – it’s important to know just how to look after them, and what to avoid. Here’s a short guide on everything to remember about baby teeth.
- When to expect baby teeth
Baby teeth generally show at around six months, though it can be a little sooner. By one year of age, your child will probably have six baby teeth across top and bottom jaws. Start brushing twice a day as soon as teeth appear. This can be a struggle at first, so don’t worry if you don’t manage very much cleaning! The important part is getting a dental hygiene routine in place that your child can keep up later. There are 20 baby teeth in total and your child should have these by three years old. When teeth touch, you should be flossing them also.
- Visiting the dentist
You should have made your first visit to the pediatric dentist by one year old. A pediatric dentist is trained in looking after children, and will help put your little one at ease. They dentist will be able to give any dietary tips for keeping teeth in their best condition. Ideally your child should see the dentist every six months- just the same as grown-ups do.
- Losing baby teeth
Baby teeth should only start to fall out around six years of age, continuing until they’re 12 or 13 years old. Tooth loss can happen earlier due to an accident or decay – but this should be avoided wherever possible. Teeth will generally fall out in the same order as they appeared. Once they’re loose, let teeth work their own way out. A warning – this could take months! Once a tooth’s out, if a new tooth hasn’t grown into its place within six months, you should see your pediatric dentist.
- Baby bottle tooth decay
This condition basically means that baby teeth suffer damage as a result of tooth decay. The decay happens when your baby has a bottle for too long – the milk (or juice) is turned to sugar, and bacteria in the mouth turns that sugar into acid, which damages teeth. Over time, the tooth enamel is destroyed and cavities are created. If this condition is left undiagnosed and untreated, teeth might even be lost. It’s best to only give your baby milk at mealtimes, and stick to water in bottles at all other times.
- Comforting habits
Many children suck their thumbs or use pacifiers, and it’s likely to stop naturally by 2 to 4 years of age. However, if it doesn’t, your dentist will probably advise you to stop the habit. That’s because the action can affect tooth development through changing the position of the front teeth or even the roof of the mouth. This can lead to overbite problems, meaning work at the orthodontist might be required later. Also, make sure you don’t dip the pacifier in anything like honey or sugar, as the sugar could damage teeth – even if they haven’t become visible yet.
- At your dentist
When you visit your pediatric dentist, they may recommend sealants. Sealants are a thin plastic coating that can be put onto back molars, helping prevent decay from taking hold or progressing further. Molars are particularly prone to decay because they’re harder to clean – being at the back of mouth – and because they have small fissures in which bacteria and decay can take hold more easily. This means your child is less likely get cavities and to need corrective work.
If your child has lost teeth early, then your dentist may recommend a space maintainer. This helps keep other baby teeth in the right position so that adult teeth – when they show through – don’t come through in the wrong places. The space maintainer could be an appliance that is fitted in place by your pediatric dentist, or is removable at home. It can feel like a big deal, but it’s not painful and is better than requiring more invasive orthodontic work later on when your child is older.
- Emergency treatments
If your child knocks a tooth or has an accident, it’s important to see a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. If there is an emergency then Drs. Nicolas & Asp has pediatric dentists available on call 24 hours a day.
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