Even before we let out our first cry as we exit our mother’s womb, our primary teeth, commonly referred as baby teeth, were already hiding in our gums. At six months old, they start to break through our gums and usually appear two at a time.
Our front bottom teeth are the first teeth to appear. Next, our four front top teeth will come out, followed by another two bottom teeth. When we reach the age of three, 20 primary teeth are expected to fill our mouth and appear above our gums.
Still, the appearance of baby teeth may vary from one baby to another.
It is also normal to have spaces between baby teeth as the gaps provide enough room when the permanent teeth break through the gums. A lack of space can indicate a crowded set of adult teeth.
Although our primary teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced by a new set of teeth, proper oral care remains a necessity as these teeth are instrumental in a baby’s biting and chewing as well as in the development of his or her oromuscular function.
Also, when a baby loses its primary teeth earlier than expected, the permanent teeth can drift into space, posing difficulty for other adult teeth to break through and eventually result to a crowded set of teeth.
Babies are also exposed to sugary liquids like breast or formula milk, fruit juice, and other sweetened drinks. This repeated exposure can allow bacteria to linger and produce acid, causing tooth decay.
Prolonged use of pacifiers, as well as, thumb-sucking can slant the top and front teeth and tilt the bottom teeth. It can also narrow the mouth roof and misalign the jaw.
Because babies are incapable of taking proper care of their teeth, parents play a vital role in ensuring that oral-related problems due to improper oral care are prevented.
Even before the eruption of a baby’s first tooth, parents should make it a habit of wiping their baby’s gums using a clean and damp washcloth.
At six months old or when the child’s teeth have appeared, brushing using a soft, polished nylon toothbrush is recommended.
By age two, parents can up their child’s oral care by using a fluoridated toothpaste. However, the fluoride level must be lower than 1,000 parts per million and only about the size of the baby’s pinky fingernail.
Children also tend to swallow toothpaste, so parents should ensure that the substance is spat out. Swallowing toothpaste, although rare, can cause fluorosis or the appearance of white spots on the adult teeth.
Gentle pressure must be applied in brushing the teeth. Also, give his or her tongue a clean to remove bacteria that may be lingering in the area. Like adult toothbrushes, a child’s toothbrush must regularly be replaced.
Since children are more vulnerable to tooth decay, parents can opt to get them dental sealants, which are coverings placed over the teeth as added protection.
A dental visit is recommended no later than a child’s first birthday. A dental check-up can help in checking signs of tooth decay and other oral-related problems related to the development of the teeth. By detecting these concerns as soon as possible, further issues and complications are prevented and addressed.