Milk teeth are the first set of teeth that appear after a baby’s birth. They are also known as primary or deciduous teeth. Milk teeth care during the early childhood years forms an important part of dental health in later life. Milk teeth contribute significantly to a child’s growth, development, and well-being.
When do baby teeth come in?
Baby milk teeth begin to erupt when a baby is about 6 months old. They are already in place inside the jaws at the time of birth. They erupt from time to time until the child is about 2.5–3 years old. Milk teeth eruption follows a general pattern.
The central incisor, which is the middle tooth in the front of the lower jaw, is the first one to come in.
The next central incisor then follows right next to the first one.
About 2 months later, the four upper incisors started to erupt. They correspond with the incisors of the lower jaw.
Baby milk teeth are 20 in number. They usually erupt completely by the third year. They remain until the preteen years, which is the milk teeth falling age. Later on, they are replaced by the permanent tooth.
As every child is different, the rate of dental growth and development varies.
It is very important to schedule your child’s first dental visit before his/her first birthday.
This helps to ensure that the upcoming teeth are all intact and your child is on the right track of proper dental development. Milk teeth’s falling age also must be right in order to facilitate the eruption of permanent teeth.
Why do baby teeth matter?
Many of us think that milk teeth care is not necessary as milk teeth will eventually fall off after a few years. But the truth is that it serves many important functions in general as well as dental health.
These will help you learn the importance of milk teeth.
Promotes proper chewing: Chewing in the right manner is vital for proper digestion. Improper chewing causes a delay in the time taken for digestion. Baby milk teeth are the first set of teeth that teach a child how to chew properly.
Encourages jaw development: The first couple of years after birth is the time when the jaw develops. This requires stimulation of the facial as well as jaw muscles and chewing is the best activity that works these muscles.
Maintains nutritional levels: Young children need to eat a variety of healthy foods to receive the nutrients they need. Milk teeth care is very important to prevent decay and tooth loss as they affect nutritional levels.
Cleans teeth and maintains them: The presence of healthy milk teeth enables a child to eat fiber-rich raw fruits and vegetables. These foods, in turn, provide nutrition, clean the teeth and keep them healthy. Milk teeth care, therefore, must be started early.
Assists in speech: Rightly spaced teeth help in word pronunciation and clarity of speech. Speech plays an important role in emotional and cognitive development.
Provides the frameset for permanent teeth: Roots of milk teeth set the stage for the eruption of permanent teeth in later life. If the roots are not in the appropriate place, misalignment of a permanent tooth is a possibility. Thus, the importance of milk teeth must not be underestimated.
Offers a good smile: Just like adults, even young children appreciate a good smile. Proper milk teeth care is the first step towards good dental health.
Oral health: Bad health of the baby’s milk teeth can be a precursor for pediatric periodontal disease. It is important to clean the gums even before teeth fully erupt.
When should I start taking my child to the dentist?
Dentists always recommend that your child should ideally have his/her first dental visit before the age of 1 year. This may seem a little too early for many parents, but this first dental visit is when your pediatric dentist will:
Examine for any early tooth decay
Review and advise you about feeding practices of the child
Tell you the importance of cleaning the mouth even before all the teeth erupt
Check for the signs of teething
Suggest the right method of brushing and dental care
Discuss the right diet for your child’s growing dentition
Recommend the right oral care products based on your child’s individual dental needs
Answer any concerns that you may have, regarding your child’s oral health
An early dental visit helps to:
Familiarise the child with the atmosphere of a dental clinic
Understand what can go on a routine dental appointment such as examination
Provide the right approach and a comfortable environment to make the child cooperative and relaxed
Make the children learn the emphasis of oral health on overall well-being as they grow older
Prepare your child for the first visit by keeping in mind the following:
Read out to your child about a dentist.
Show interactive videos of what a dentist does.
Make the process as comfortable and anxiety-free as possible.
While in the dental clinic, you or your older child can be a model to ease the anxiety.
How to care for your child’s teeth
Taking care of your baby’s teeth lays a strong foundation for his/her future well-being and dental health. Following are a few tips that will help you along the way:
Clean the baby’s teeth and gums after each meal or at least twice daily.
Start by cleaning the gums with your finger or a clean damp cloth.
Give the child a cold object to suck on to facilitate teething.
Start brushing regularly, once you see teeth starting to erupt.
Milk teeth cavities need to be treated on time
Get a dentist’s recommendation about the right toothpaste for your child.
As they grow older, encourage the right dental habits such as brushing twice a day.
Flossing can be started early on when teeth start to erupt.
Avoid them from having excessive sugary foods and drinks.
Milk teeth cavities can impact permanent teeth
Do not let children sleep with their bottles.
When your child is around 2 years, teach him/her to swish around and rinse after brushing.
Younger kids tend to swallow toothpaste, so emphasise brushing properly.
Watch out if your child is thumb sucking. This can lead to improper dental alignment.
Use a toothbrush with soft bristles so that they clean gums and teeth, yet don’t hurt.
Include a calcium-rich diet such as milk, yogurt, millets.
Visit the dentist at the right recommended intervals for regular checkups.
Dental health is integral to overall well-being and our dental experts at Smile Oracles are adept at providing compassionate care to all our patients. We have the best pediatric dentist in Delhi who will use the most advanced technology and approach for our patients while offering a relaxed experience.