As the years go by and we grow older, we all start to pay more attention to our teeth. We know that overall health hygiene and oral wellbeing is vitally important for many reasons. However, it is important to note that it is not just our adult teeth that are important. Baby teeth are just as important for overall oral health as well. Sure, it is normal to think less of baby teeth as they will fall out and be taken by the tooth fairy, so surely, they are not worth worrying too much about, right? Wrong! Setting foundations of good oral health early on, the better your children’s oral health will be.
Although we all may know them as baby teeth, a child’s early set of teeth are in fact known as primary teeth. It is key to note that the child’s primary teeth are just as important as permanent adult teeth. A baby is born with 20 primary teeth; the teeth are in fact present in the jaws at birth. Primary teeth tend to show and break through the gums when a baby reaches the ages of 6 months to 1 year – but don’t worry, a child will soon let you know when they are starting to break through!
Once the teeth are about to grow through, a child’s gums will become very sore and very tender. Something as simple as rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger, or a cold dummy will certainly be soothing to them. Some parents give teething rings to help give the child a form of comfort. Of course, if you have any long-term concerns or worries then you should always consult your dentist.
As we mentioned earlier, it is very wrong to feel that children’s primary teeth do not matter as they are only going to fall out eventually. You see, primary teeth are there to help children chew and to help them learn how to talk as well; without these primary teeth both of these key fundamental learning elements will be neglected. Not only that, the primary teeth actually hold space in the jaws for the permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. If a child’s tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty spaces left behind and making it very difficult for the other adult teeth to find room when they finally break through. This is where a lot of the early stages of crooked or crowded teeth come from.
The ADA strongly recommend that a dentist examines a child within six months after they see the first tooth come through, and no later than their first birthday. Although some people may see this as being too early for a dental visit, it is very important so that a dentist can do a well-baby checkup. A dentist will be able to look out for any early stages of tooth decay and for any other early problems that may be occurring; as with many things when it comes to health and hygiene the earlier a problem is found the easier it is to heal.
There is also another huge benefit to going to see a dentist early on in your child’s life. One thing a dentist can do is show you how to expertly clean your child’s teeth and how to evaluate any adverse habits such as thumb sucking. By learning how to properly brush a child’s set of primary teeth, you can reduce the risk of tooth decay and reduce the chances of any teeth being lost early on in their lifetime.
It is key to note at this stage that tooth decay can occur the second a tooth starts to break through the gum. If a tooth is exposed, it needs to be cleaned. As soon as they do start to appear, buy a child friendly soft toothbrush and brush your child’s teeth with a bit of water to start with. Of course, as your child grows older you need to be using a fluoride based toothpaste.
Another thing that is easily forgotten is the amount of sugar and other food produce that are consumed before bedtime. Ensure your child finishes these before they go to bed. Also, always be sure to use a clean pacifier. It is incredible how much harmful bacteria can be on a pacifier, so it is important to always sterilize any pacifier and to make sure that they are as clean as possible. Also, never be tempted to dip a pacifier in sugar or honey as a little sneaky treat for your young one. Although it’s nice, this can cause harm to your child’s teeth further down the line.
As we mentioned earlier, one of the key reasons that primary teeth are so important is that theory hold the space in the jaws; primary teeth may be temporary, but they need good care for many years.
From around age 6 to age 12, children will lose their baby teeth and the adult teeth will appear. The first adult teeth to come in are the first permanent molars. The first permanent molars are especially important because they help determine the shape of the lower face and affect the position and health of other permanent teeth. The last teeth to appear are the third molars or “wisdom teeth” at around age 17 – 21 years. By age 21, all 32 of the permanent teeth have usually appeared.
So always be sure to look after your child’s teeth; even if they are just the primary, or baby teeth. Think of the primary teeth like the foundation of your house. Without a strong and healthy set of primary teeth the later adult teeth will struggle to develop properly later on in life. It is much better to look after the primary teeth and use them as a great foundation for the adult teeth further down the line.