In the womb, a baby prepares for life by building functioning organs, developing
hands, feet, skin and features, and even baby teeth. These tooth buds,
called primary teeth, are already formed at birth but do not begin erupting
until the child is around four months old. Parents know all too well the
difficulties of teething, as babies will cry, run fevers and be generally
fussy as these first teeth begin to push out of their gums.
Humans have two sets of teeth in our lifetime. The first set of teeth,
these primary teeth, will only last long enough for the child’s
jaw to grow and mature. After such time, the permanent teeth will come
in and will be used for the remainder of life. The excitement of losing
a first tooth and the anticipation of being visited by the “Tooth
Fairy” is a coming-of-age ritual that we have all experienced.
How are children’s teeth different from those we have as adults?
First of all, there are only 20 primary teeth that will erupt. As adults,
we typically have 32 teeth, or, if we do not develop our third molars
or “wisdom teeth”, then we only have 28. The baby teeth do
not have fully developed roots, and when viewed on an X-ray, the tiny,
pin-like vestigial roots are small and shallow, allowing these teeth to
easily come out or be extracted when the permanent teeth begin to come
in. Our adult teeth have long, fully-formed roots that anchor them into
our jawbone and help keep them solid and functional for the lifetime of
How can you help your child maintain these primary teeth until the adult
teeth come in?
Just as it is important for us to keep our teeth clean, brushed and flossed,
it is vital for you to ensure that your child’s teeth are kept clean
and healthy. The health of the primary teeth will ensure the future health
of their permanent teeth, and will prevent later cases of tooth decay and
gum disease. With babies, it is as easy as wiping their gums with a clean, damp washcloth
before the first set of teeth arrive. When your child’s primary
teeth erupt, be sure to brush them daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush
and a small, pea-sized drop of toothpaste. Additionally, begin teaching
your child as soon as they begin to have manual dexterity of their own
to brush their own teeth and establish an important daily routine that
will serve them throughout their lives. Prevent early tooth decay or “nursing
bottle mouth” by never leaving your child with a bottle at nap time,
and following milk, juice or formula with plain water to rinse away any residue.
The Szikman Dental Group, P.C., we begin to see children at around four-and-a-half to five years of age
for regular dental cleaning and examination. At this first visit, we will
establish a routine of providing yearly fluoride treatments to help their
primary teeth remain strong and ensure the health of their permanent teeth.
Call our office today to schedule your child’s first dental checkup!