We are born with two sets of teeth, primary or first and secondary or permanent. The primary teeth are also called deciduous, as are trees, which lose their leaves every fall. Deciduous teeth begin to appear at about six to eight months. Twenty teeth make a complete set and all are in by age three. The three-year molar is the last to appear. The permanent teeth start to grow at about age six and all are present except the wisdom teeth between the ages of twelve to fourteen. The twelve-year molars are the lasts to grow in, until the wisdom teeth start to break through from age 17 on.
Including wisdom teeth our permanent teeth number 32. Few people however have room for all 32 teeth, which is why wisdom teeth may need to be removed. The front teeth are called incisors; the eyeteeth are referred to as canines; side teeth as premolars or bicuspids and back teeth as molars. Since our second set of teeth is the set we are supposed to keep for the rest of our lives, it is important that they be given proper care.
Regular and thorough brushing and flossing as well as routine check ups by your dentist will do much to safeguard your smile.
Babies are as individual in their teething as they are in everything else they do. It’s not uncommon for some babies to drool for weeks before their first tooth comes in. For others, teeth just seem to appear without much fuss at all. Quite often a baby will have sore or tender gums and that tends to make them irritable. To help soothe any sore spots, gently rub them with a clean finger or the back of a small, cold spoon. Teething rings also work well. Try and avoid teething biscuits since many of them contain sugar and shouldn’t be offered.
Some parents worry that their child’s teething is either to early or too late. There is absolutely no link between when the child’s teeth come in and how strong the teeth will be.
Be sure to examine all of your baby’s teeth especially on the inside or the tongue side every two weeks for dull whiter spots or lines. These can be signs of nursing bottle decay. If a bottle is left in an infants mouth for a long period of time and it contains anything but water, decay can occur more rapidly. Sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in the dental plaque to form acids that attack tooth enamel. Each time your child drinks liquids containing sugar, acids attack the teeth for at least 20 minutes. When children are awake, their saliva tends to carry away the liquid. But during sleep the saliva flow decreases and these liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods bathing the teeth in acids. If your baby needs a bottle for comfort before falling asleep, fill the bottle with plain water. Regardless of your child’s age, if you notice anything unusual in your baby’s mouth, seek dental care immediately.
Your Child’s New Teeth
Even though your child’s first teeth are replaced by a permanent set, they play a very important role in your baby’s dental development. When your child is born, all 20 of the primary teeth, which will appear over the next two years, are already present in your baby’s jaws. These teeth are almost fully developed but will remain hidden under the gums until the front teeth begin to emerge at about six or seven months. Teething will continue on and off for about two years. Around age six the permanent teeth begin to appear and teething will continue on and off until about age twelve. At that point all the permanent teeth with the exception of the wisdom teeth are present.
Even though baby teeth will be replaced by the permanent teeth, they are crucial to the jaw development and positioning of the permanent teeth of your child. Because the baby teeth are responsible for guiding the permanent teeth into their proper place in the mouth, baby teeth that are missing or prematurely lost may need to have their natural space held open, usually by a little device called a space maintainer. Any missing teeth should be brought to the attention of your dentist. How your child cares for his baby teeth will play an important role in how he treats his second and final set.
Children’s teeth get plaque just as adult teeth do; therefore they need to be cleaned just as permanent teeth. Because children’s mouths accumulate plaque just like adult teeth, their gums are also susceptible to the gum problems plaque can cause. Bleeding gums need to be cared for. Notify your dentist if your child’s gums bleed when he or she brushes.
Diet also plays as an important role in the dental health of a child as it does an adult. Your child’s teeth should be cleaned daily and sweets and starchy foods kept to a minimum. Also, try to avoid having your child sleep with a bottle with milk, formula or fruit juice, you run the risk of “nursing bottle mouth”, a dental condition that destroys your child’s teeth through early, serious decay. Sugar in these liquids mixes with the bacteria in the dental plaque in the mouth to from acids that attack tooth enamel. Each time your child drinks liquids containing sugar, the acids attack the teeth for at least 20 minutes. When the child is awake, their saliva tends to carry away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow decreases and these liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, bathing the teeth in acid. Don’t think that a pacifier dipped in honey or sugar is beneficial either. This will damage the teeth just as easy. Best advice, if your child needs a bottle at bedtime, fill the bottle with plain water. Any discoloration on your child’s teeth should be brought to the attention of your dentist for his or her evaluation.
Your child’s first visit to the dentist should be a pleasant experience and should be before age 2, definitely before all 20 teeth are in the mouth. You can do much to prepare your child for his first visit, and help him or her to look forward to this new experience. Children visiting the dentist for the first time are full of questions. Entertain your child’s curiosity by talking about the upcoming visit. Don’t mention needles or “that it won’t hurt” – this may frighten your child. You can tell your child the dentist will count their teeth to see how many there are and maybe take some pictures of their teeth as well. Your dental office may have a book you can read to your child about the first visit to the dentist, if not the library has a lot of information about this subject matter. Proper care of your child’s teeth will avoid problems in the future and help to keep your child’s smile bright.
The process by which a child looses their baby teeth is a simple one. At about age six the roots of the baby teeth begin to dissolve, as this happens the teeth begin to get loose. A baby tooth may wiggle about for quite a while before the tooth actually falls out. Gentle coaxing by pushing on the tooth is not harmful, however, be sure that your child does not put excess pressure on the tooth with his tongue. It is not abnormal for the permanent tooth to make an appearance with the baby tooth still in the mouth. If however, the baby tooth does NOT fall out soon after the permanent tooth breaks through, notify your dentist. An over retained baby tooth may interfere with the normal development of the adult tooth.
Baby teeth are also responsible for guiding the permanent teeth into their proper position in the jaw. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely due to an accident or decay it is important that the space be held open. Usually this is done with a little device called a space maintainer. If this space is not held open, the tooth underneath may have problems growing in later on. Baby teeth generally come out when they are ready, without any complications.
Notify your dentist of any problems or questions.