Frequently Asked Questions About Baby Teeth

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Parenthood comes with a variety of concerns and challenges, including questions involving a child's first set of teeth. These primary teeth, commonly referred to as deciduous teeth, milk teeth, or baby teeth, may take some time to fully populate your child's mouth. Baby teeth can develop problems just as permanent teeth can.

The more you know about the nature, eruption patterns, and health or comfort issues related to baby teeth, the more easily you can help your little one get through this phase of growth and development with minimal trouble. Check out these answers to frequently asked questions about baby teeth.

How Do Baby Teeth Differ From Permanent Teeth?

Unlike permanent teeth, which extend long, sturdy roots deep into the jawbone, baby teeth have short, thin roots. This less robust attachment makes it easier for the permanent teeth to push them out when the time comes. However, it also makes the baby teeth more vulnerable to injuries or other incidents that might knock them out.

Baby teeth often sport a more brilliantly white appearance than permanent teeth. At the same time, however, the enamel that makes up the outer tooth surfaces typically proves thinner and more easily damaged. Your child's baby teeth will probably look smaller than the permanent teeth that eventually replace them.

The average child's mouth only has 20 baby teeth, as opposed to the 32 teeth of an adult mouth. This arrangement of teeth doesn't include premolars or wisdom teeth, which only erupt as permanent teeth.

When Should You Expect Your Child's Baby Teeth to Appear?

Your child's first baby teeth should appear somewhere around the six-month mark. The lower central incisors usually erupt first, followed by the upper central incisors and lateral incisors. The canines erupt soon afterward. The molars erupt last. It may take up to 20 months for all your child's primary molars to appear.

By the age of two and a half, most children have all their baby teeth in place. Bear in mind, however, that this schedule can vary from child to child. If you worry about the non-appearance or late appearance of your child's baby teeth, your pediatric dentist can look into the matter and put your mind at ease.

When Do Baby Teeth Give Way to Permanent Replacements?

Just as baby teeth erupt on varying timelines, their shedding and replacement with permanent teeth can occur on a somewhat fluid schedule as well. In most cases, the shedding pattern matches the eruption pattern. Children start to lose primary incisors around age six, but they may not lose their second molars until age twelve or later.

Sometimes a permanent tooth never appears at all. This problem usually affects the second premolars or the upper lateral incisors. If your child has congenitally missing teeth, your pediatric dentist may recommend the installation of a partial bridge or other appliance to maintain normal tooth spacing throughout the growing years.

How Can You Help Your Child Cope With Teething?

The eruption of baby teeth can produce oral irritation and other upsetting sensations, a phenomenon known as teething. During this phase, your child may drool, cry, refuse to eat, have trouble sleeping, and show signs of general anxiety. Your child may also tug at the ear on the same side as the tooth that causes the discomfort.

You can ease your child's distress with aid of soothing products such as teething rings, hard teething biscuits, and/or cold food (or a cold washcloth). Don't use oral pain gels or painkilling drugs without the express permission of your pediatric dentist. These products may cause side effects without providing genuine relief.

Treasured Smiles Pediatric Dentistry can help keep all your children smiling throughout the phases of their dental development and all the way to adulthood. Contact our office to learn more about our pediatric dental services or schedule an appointment.

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