Primary teeth are also known as deciduous, milk, or baby teeth. Your baby’s teeth actually begin forming in the womb, and usually start to erupt around six months of age. Over the next three years twenty baby teeth will come in. Your child should see a children’s dentist starting at twelve months of age. This first visit usually involves a dental exam to make sure your child’s dental progress is on track, and to make sure any evident dental problems are attended to.
The primary teeth serve very distinct purposes:
- They reserve proper spacing for permanent teeth. Adult teeth are preparing to come in as baby teeth are lost. Primary teeth will begin to fall out around age six allowing permanent teeth to begin to emerge. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, your children’s dentist may recommend placing a space maintainer to prevent already erupted adult teeth from shifting blocking the emergence of a tooth in its correct place.
- Teeth play a very large role in word formation. As your child learns to talk, they will use their tongue and teeth to form sounds and learn proper word pronunciation.
- Chewing. As your child develops the ability to eat solid foods, the teeth play a very large role in consuming a nutritious diet. Of course, early foods will be soft; but as your child grows and starts to eat other foods, proper nourishment from fresh fruits and vegetables; protein; grains; and dairy will be enabled by healthy teeth.
Daily oral maintenance for your child’s primary teeth is very important. Wiping newly formed baby teeth with a soft cloth until your child is able to allow you to brush their teeth is acceptable. Once several baby teeth have erupted, use a soft bristle toothbrush and an age appropriate pea size drop of toothpaste to clean your child’s teeth. It will be some time until your child learns to spit out toothpaste, so never use a fluoridated toothpaste for your baby or toddler.
In an effort to keep your baby’s teeth cavity free, never put your child to bed with a bottle containing anything but water. Milk, formula, and juice can linger in your baby’s mouth after they fall asleep. The sugars from these beverages can allow plaque to form on teeth leading to dental decay.
For more questions or to schedule an appointment, contact our caring team today!