Baby teeth play an extremely important part in your child’s development and shape most aspects of your child’s attributes like speech, facial structure etc.

As a parent, seeing your baby’s first tooth may be an important milestone. But what you need to know is that baby teeth require as much attention and care as their permanent counterparts. Baby teeth play an extremely important part in your child’s development and shape most aspects of your child’s attributes like speech, facial structure etc. Here are some important facts and tips regarding baby teeth.

What are baby teeth?

Baby teeth, also known as deciduous teeth or primary teeth, are the predecessors of permanent teeth. They are 20 in number and act as temporary placeholders for the succeeding permanent teeth. They are usually smaller in size than their permanent counterparts.

Are they important?

Many have the misconception that baby teeth are unimportant as they are replaced by their permanent counterparts. What you need to know is that baby teeth play a vital role in your child’s development. Not only do they help your child eat, chew and speak, they also guide the permanent teeth into erupting in the correct positions. They actively aid in the development of jaw muscles.

When do babies start teething?

The eruption of baby teeth usually has a wide range of timeline. In certain babies, the teeth can come through as early as 3-4 months while for others it may take longer. Typically, they start to erupt between 6 and 12 months.

The sequence of eruption

The bottom front teeth (lower incisors) are usually the first ones to erupt. However, the upper front teeth may also erupt at the same time in some babies. The order in which the baby’s teeth may appear is as follows:

Sequence of eruption

By the age of two and a half to three, you can expect your baby to have their full set of 20 primary teeth.

How long are baby teeth present?

Although your baby acquires all their baby teeth by the age of three, these tiny chompers last in the mouth till the age of 12 (or more). Hence, taking care of baby teeth is of utmost importance. Baby teeth generally fall out in the same order as they first appear. It’s not rare for the adult tooth to pop up behind a baby tooth. However, if you notice that your baby’s tooth has not fallen out on its own, pay a visit to the dentist.

What can you do at home?

While teething: Eruption of baby teeth or teething can cause discomfort to your baby’s gums and jaws. The child might show signs of fuzziness, irritability, troubled sleeping and loss of appetite. They can also exhibit increased drooling. You can gently massage the baby’s gums with a clean finger or a moist gauze pad to bring about immediate relief. Although teething can be painful, it wouldn’t make your child sick. Make an appointment with a pediatrician in case your child has high fever, vomiting or diarrhea.

Erupted baby teeth: Maintaining good oral hygiene while the child is growing is a must. Stick to toothpastes that are meant for children. Use grain-sized amounts of toothpaste to brush any newly erupted tooth after each meal. Brush your child’s teeth yourself until you are confident about them brushing on their own.

When to visit a dentist?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests making a visit to the dentist as soon as the child’s first tooth erupts or when the child turns one, whichever comes first. This helps the dentist determine the growth and development of your child. The dentist can also review all the oral hygiene habits and go through the recommended dietary guidelines for your baby.

Keep in mind that taking care of your child’s teeth can help them keep their smiles intact for a lifetime. Even though they eventually fall, be sure to treat them like permanent teeth.