The Importance of Baby Teeth
San Antonio General and Children Dentistry
The first baby teeth, known as primary teeth, usually appear as early as 3-4 months of age, but really start to erupt through the gums between the ages of 6 months to one year of age. Although timing and order of eruption may differ from one child to the next, typically all 20 primary teeth (baby teeth) will usually erupt by the age of three. Even though these teeth will start falling out by age 6, baby teeth are in fact extremely important.
Why Baby Teeth Are Important:
- Help children chew food easily and properly
- Help children speak more clearly, adapting speech patterns
- Baby teeth hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums
- Baby teeth allow for normal development of the child’s jawbone and muscles.
- Set the stage for a lifetime of healthy smiles
Baby teeth can also be more prone to cavities than adult teeth because of sugary diets. In fact, more than 50 percent of children will be affected by tooth decay before the age five. Keeping those cavities away will help avoid early loss of a tooth and unnecessary pain and spending. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when it’s their turn to erupt. Similarly, baby teeth may also drift into the missing tooth space which can make eruption of permanent teeth not possible or more often than not, erupt into malocclusion (sideways, too far to the cheek side or tongue side, etc). So, proper oral hygiene is important as soon as your baby is born. Establishing good oral habits early will go a long way, even beyond impressing the tooth fairy..
When baby teeth emerge through the gums, babies go through a phase called teething. It can be a bit painful, and it can make your child cranky. But it’s a very natural process that every developing child goes through. Your baby’s gums may be sore and tender, and they may drool a bit. But there are ways to alleviate some of that pain and make your child, and you, feel a whole lot better.
To Alleviate Teething Pain:
- Gently rub your child’s gums with a clean finger, a wet gauze pad or towelette, or a small, cool spoon
- Give your child something to chew on, like a cool washcloth or a rubber teething ring
- Offer your child cold foods such as applesauce or yogurt if he or she is old enough to eat solid foods
If these methods don’t work, you might want to give your teething baby a small dose of children’s pain reliever, but check with your the doctor before giving your baby any medication. If nothing seems to be working and your teething baby continues to be cranky and demonstrate signs of pain, call us to schedule an appointment.
How to Clean Baby Teeth
Gently clean your baby’s gums after every feeding using a clean, damp washcloth or a toothbrush with soft bristles and a small head made just for babies.
As soon as the first baby tooth arrives, you can start brushing it with a soft toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste. To brush baby teeth, use a small amount of non-fluoride toothpaste and apply it sparingly to his/her pediatric soft toothbrush. Brush the front and back of your baby’s teeth, and lift your baby’s lips to make sure you gently get the gum line. You should brush your baby’s teeth twice a day.
Try to have your baby realize that you brush your teeth too. It can greatly influence their desire to brush like you do.
When Should Your Baby Visit The Dentist?
At Parsi General and Children Dentistry, we want you to have a lifetime of smiles. Ideally you want to have your first dentist appointment by age 1. Teeth may or may not be present, but building a relationship with the child early is very beneficial to great oral success. Addionally, parents get a chance to discuss concerns and go over emergency scenarios. That’s why we would like you to make Parsi General and Children Dentistry your dental home. By definition, a dental home is the ongoing relationship between the dentist and the patient; a relationship that begins with the child’s very first visit around the age of one and includes all aspects of oral health care delivered in a comprehensive, continuously accessible, coordinated, and family-centered way.
Good habits start early. So, establish your dental home early and schedule your child’s first dental visit shortly after the first tooth appears, and no later than your child’s first birthday. Learn more about your child’s first dental visit.
Dr. Parsi and his wife have been delivering gentle pediatric care for over 17 years. Come visit Parsi General & Children Dentistry in San Antonio and you too will find our office to be a unique opportunity to have all your dental health needs met by the highly qualified hands of Dr. Parsi and his incredible team. Parsi General & Children Dentistry – Proudly offering pediatric dental services and adult dental services such as dental veneers, dental implants, teeth whitening, Invisalign, and comprehensive family dentistry to the San Antonio area since 1998.