Usually, the first tooth erupts between 6 to 12 months. Gums are sore, tender, and sometimes irritable until 3. Rubbing sore gums gently with a clean finger, the back of a cold spoon, or a cold, wet cloth helps soothe the gums. Teething rings work well, but avoid teething biscuits—they contain sugar that is not good for baby teeth.
While your baby is teething, it is essential to monitor the teeth for signs of baby bottle decay. Examine the teeth, especially on the inside or tongue, every two weeks for dull spots (whiter than the tooth surface) or lines. When you leave a bottle containing anything other than water left in an infant’s mouth while sleeping can cause decay. Decay happens because sugar in the liquid mixes with bacteria in dental plaque, forming acids that attack the tooth enamel. Each time a child drinks sugar liquids, acids attack the teeth for about 20 minutes. When awake, saliva carries away the liquid. During sleep, the saliva flow significantly decreases, and liquids pool around the child’s teeth for long periods, covering the teeth in acids.
Infant’s New Teeth
The primary, or “baby,” teeth are crucial in dental development. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. Primary teeth are vital to the growth of the jaws and for guiding the permanent (secondary) teeth into place when they replace the primary teeth around age 6.
Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to open the natural space. Without a maintainer, the teeth can tilt toward the area and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked. It would help if you always mentioned missing teeth to your family dentist. The way your child cares for their primary teeth plays a critical role in how they treat permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems—hence, the need for regular care and dental check-ups.
A Child’s First Dental Visit
You should schedule your child’s first dental visit around their first birthday. The most important part of the visit is getting to know and becoming comfortable with a doctor and his staff. A pleasant, relaxing first visit builds trust and helps put the child at ease during future dental visits. If possible, allow the child to sit on a parent’s lap in the exam room. Children should be encouraged to discuss any fears or anxiety they feel.
Why Primary Teeth Are Important
Primary teeth are essential for several reasons. Foremost, good teeth allow a child to eat and maintain good nutrition. Healthy teeth allow for clear pronunciation and speech habits. The self-image that healthy teeth give a child is immeasurable. Primary teeth also guide the eruption of the permanent teeth.
Good Diet and Healthy Teeth
The teeth, bones, and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups helps minimize (and avoid) cavities and other dental problems. Most snacks that children eat cause cavities, so children should only receive healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.
Infant Tooth Eruption
A child’s teeth start forming before birth. As early as four months of age, the primary or “baby” teeth push through the gums—the lower central incisors are first, then the upper central incisors. The remainder of the 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age 3, but the place and order vary.
Permanent teeth begin eruption around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. Adults have 28 secondary (permanent) teeth—32 including the third molars (wisdom teeth).
Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to breast or bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to fall asleep comfortably should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier. Our office is dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. Let us know if you notice any signs of decay or anything unusual in your child’s mouth.