There are 20 baby teeth in a full set which consists of incisors, canines and molars. The eruption typically begins at 6-12 months old and will be complete by three years old. The last baby tooth will be lost around 12 years old. The first teeth to erupt are usually the lower front, and the last teeth are the molars in the back. While there is a typical pattern of eruption, every child is different and small variations to the order in which the teeth erupt is considered a variation of normal. During the teething process, there may be some soreness in the gums. A damp cloth or teething ring can be used to gently sooth the area, and this will go away once the teeth fully erupt.
Baby teeth are essential to keep healthy and functional for a multitude of reasons. Baby teeth, just like adult teeth, are used daily for biting/chewing food, speaking and smiling. Unlike adult teeth, they also serve the purpose of guiding the permanent teeth into position by holding the space. The roots of a baby tooth will slowly resorb away while the adult tooth erupts to take its place. If a baby tooth is lost premature, other baby teeth can drift out of position, or the adult teeth can erupt in the wrong spots. This leads to crowding of the adult teeth and potential bite and jaw problems. It is vital to prevent cavities in baby teeth, or to fix existing cavities, so each tooth can stay healthy and in position.
For infants with no teeth yet, wipe gums once or twice a day with moist gauze or cloth. As soon as the first tooth appears, it is essential to start using a bristled toothbrush. The existing teeth must be brushed at least twice a day with a non-fluoridated toothpaste. Around three years old, adding a fluoridated toothpaste will reduce the risk for cavities. Any two teeth that have contact must also be flossed, as these spots are more susceptible to decay. Regular check-ups and cleanings are integral to maintain healthy baby teeth.
If you believe your child may have a cavity or a tooth out of position, or if you have any questions about it, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.