Who can resist the cute smile of a baby showing off their first tooth? But beyond making for adorable smiles, baby teeth; also known as primary teeth or deciduous teeth, play a critical role in a child’s dental health development.
Typically the first baby tooth starts to appear between 4 and 7 months of age and most children have all 20 of their primary teeth by the time they are three years old. As the child reaches age 5 or 6, one by one, these first teeth start falling out. They are being pushed out of the way by the permanent tooth behind it. After about 6 years, by the time your child is 12 or 13 most kids have lost all of their baby teeth which have been replaced by their permanent teeth.
Some parents mistakenly believe that this first set of teeth isn’t as important as the permanent teeth because eventually, they fall out. Considering your child will have these teeth all throughout their early childhood, their importance is significant. Healthy primary teeth:
- Aid and support speech development – Just try saying the word “tooth” without letting your tongue touch your teeth. As a matter of fact, try saying that whole sentence. Not so easy is it?
- Fosters good nutrition – Allows your child to chew healthy food, which helps them succeed in all areas of development; physical, intellectual and emotional.
- The baby tooth provides a guide for the permanent tooth’s eruption – The roots of the baby teeth provide an opening space for the new tooth to come through.
- Builds confidence – As we like to say at Dentistry by Design, help your child smile with confidence. Nothing achieves this better than healthy teeth and gums.
So what can you do to keep those baby teeth healthy? It’s simple, care for them the same you would permanent teeth. At Dentistry by Design we recommend:
- Brushing 2x a day – You can start this before the first tooth even appears. Wipe baby’s gums with a soft, damp cloth. When the first teeth start to come in use an age appropriate toothbrush with fluoride free “starter” toothpaste. Once your baby is able to spit properly you can begin using a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, no more than a smear for 1 ½ – 2 year olds, pea sized amount for older children.
- Floss regularly – We recommend daily as soon as two teeth emerge together. Flossers work great for little mouths and make it easier to reach those back teeth.
- Limit the intake of sugary snacks and drinks – We know you have heard this before, but there is just no getting around it, sugar causes tooth decay.
- Visit your favorite dentist for regular checkups – Beginning with their first birthday you can bring your child in for the doctor to take a quick peak to make sure everything in coming in properly and we can review age appropriate dental care for your child. Once your child is able to tolerate sitting in the chair, usually by the age of three, they can be seen for regular cleanings and checkups, twice a year.
- Take our “Healthy Smile” Pledge and commit to healthy teeth and gums for a life time!
For more information about the importance and care of baby teeth see: