The Primary (Children's) Teeth

A child's first teeth are very important to their health. The teeth are, of course, required to chew food. The primary teeth also maintain space for the permanent teeth, developing underneath them in the jaws. Severely decayed teeth can cause pain and infection.

Here are some commonly asked questions about childrens teeth

When should I take my child to see the dentist?

Ideally, your child's first dental visit should be by the first birthday. If you take your child to the dentist at an early age, your dentist can help you prevent any problems. Your dentist will check for decay and other problems, teach you how to clean your child's teeth daily and identify your child's fluoride needs. By starting dental visits early, you'll help your child build a lifetime of good dental habits.

Do I need to clean my baby's mouth if there are no teeth yet?

Yes. Begin cleaning the baby's mouth during the first few days after birth. After every feeding, wipe the baby's gums with a damp washcloth or gauze pad to remove plaque. This establishes at an early age the importance of oral hygiene and the feel of having clean teeth and gums.

Can babies get cavities?

Yes. As soon as teeth appear in the mouth, decay can occur. One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay. This condition can occur when an infant is allowed to nurse continuously from a bottle of milk, formula, sugar water or fruit juice during naps or at night. If these liquids pool around the child's teeth during sleep, the teeth will be attacked by acids for long periods of time, and serious decay can result. If you must give your baby a bottle as a comforter at bedtime, make sure it contains only water. And never dip a pacifier into sugar or honey.

Is teething painful?

Yes. When babies are teething, usually between the ages of four months and 2½ years, they often have sore and tender gums. The pain usually can be soothed by gently rubbing the baby's gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze. A clean teething ring for the baby to chew on also may be helpful. Teething does not cause a fever. If your child has an elevated temperature, it needs to be addressed as a separate medical concern. If your baby continues to be cranky and uncomfortable after you attempt to ease its teething pain, call your physician.

When should thumbsucking stop?

Children should have ceased thumbsucking by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four years. Sucking often gradually lessens during this period as children spend more of their waking hours exploring their surroundings. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop. Some studies show that thumbsucking behavior is viewed negatively by classmates. Children with these behaviors may have more problems making friends.

Can a child lose a primary tooth too early?

Sometimes a primary tooth is lost before the permanent tooth beneath it is ready to erupt. If the primary teeth are lost too early, nearby teeth can tip or move into the vacant space. When the permanent teeth are ready to come into the mouth, there may not be enough room. As a result, teeth may erupt out of their proper positions, leading to malocclusion. To avoid such future problems, your dentist may recommend using a space maintainer to reserve space for the permanent tooth.

[First Visit] [The Primary Teeth] [Injury] [Overcrowding] [A.D.A. Pamphlet] [More Info.]

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Stuart A. Greene, DDS-FAGD
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©2004 Stuart A. Greene, DDS-FAGD | Online since 1996 | Updated Continuously