In our last blog post we stressed the importance of dental care during pregnancy. Following up on that post, we’d like to discuss your new baby’s teeth, and how to care for them. At Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, AZ, we’re known as a gentle dentist office that cares about meeting the dental needs of your whole family, and that includes your little ones.
A child’s first baby tooth (aka primary tooth) will come in somewhere between their 4th and 7th months after birth. From that first tooth, through the age of 3, the remaining baby teeth will continue to come in until the final teeth located at the upper back part of the mouth have made their appearance. The total number of baby teeth for most children will be twenty, with 10 teeth on the top and 10 teeth on the bottom.
Those same baby teeth begin the process of falling out and being replaced by permanent teeth around age 6. When your child has reached the age of 12 or 13, all their baby teeth will have been gradually replaced by their thirty-two permanent teeth.
The Importance of Baby (Primary) Teeth
Why were we created with baby teeth? What is their value?
- Baby teeth lead the way for our permanent teeth. You could think of them as a space-saver for your adult teeth until the child grows and their body makes room for their permanent teeth. The role of baby teeth in preparing a space for your permanent teeth is crucial, since they help with the alignment and positioning of your final set of teeth.
- Baby teeth help with developing speech. Some of our syllables and sounds used in speaking are made with the help of our teeth. As a child is learning to speak, their baby teeth are an essential part of their speech development.
- Baby teeth are needed for chewing. Of course, teeth are made for chewing. A baby’s teeth help as they graduate from breastfeeding or the bottle and make the transition to eating fruits, veggies, meats, and grains.
Cavities Can Form in a Child’s Primary Teeth
Caring for your child’s baby teeth is just as important as caring for their permanent teeth. Being diligent to clean those baby teeth, starting as soon as the first tooth comes in, helps your little one stay strong and healthy. You may not be aware that cavities can form in baby teeth, but in fact, since the protective enamel of primary teeth is thinner than the enamel on adult teeth, cavities can occur more easily. As young children, those cavity infections can spread more quickly to other parts of their bodies and have a greater impact on their physical well-being. Also, if a baby tooth is lost early because of decay, it’s possible that the permanent tooth taking its place could grow in crooked and become misaligned. In addition, if your child is experiencing pain, their nutrition could suffer from their unwillingness to properly chew food, or use their teeth correctly in helping to break down food to prepare it for digestion.
Understanding how essential it is to properly care for our baby’s teeth is the first step toward giving them a lifetime of healthy teeth. In our next blog post we’ll take a look at recommended oral care routines and practices for your baby, infant, or toddler. We know you want to be the best parent for your little ones, and that includes developing daily oral hygiene care for the smallest member of the family, up to and including the more mature family members. As a practice known for being the gentle dentist office in town, we’re here to help in any way we can. Feel free to contact us!