Dental Care

Baby Teeth - A Lifetime Of Oral Health

Parents wait anxiously for the baby teeth of their newborn to come in.

And the arrival of those little pearly white landmarks mean it's time for Mom and Dad to launch a lifetime of good dental hygiene for their child. 

Throughout a person's life, he has two successive sets of teeth, and it all starts with the primary teeth, also known as the milk teeth or the deciduous teeth.  They are followed, of course, by the permanent teeth.

Children begin to get their first teeth around the age of six months.  Throughout the early years, they will emerge in a fixed order of appearance.  By the time Baby is about three years old, all twenty of his teeth have pushed through.

And then after just a couple more years, they begin to fall out and are replaced by the permanent teeth, a process that lasts typically through the age of 12.

By that time all the permanent teeth should be in, with the exception of the third molars. And, incidentally, the scientific name for this second set is succedaneous teeth

If your child's teeth do not appear within the timeframe just mentioned, don't panic! Every baby really does develop at his own pace, and he might not have a tooth peek through until he's a year or even a little more. 

On the other hand, if your child's teeth come in very early, be certain the pediatrician knows so that the baby can be checked for hyperthyroidism or other glandular (endocrine) dysfunction.  But no matter when teeth begin coming through, they should all be in place by time your child is three years old. 

A complete set of deciduous teeth contains twenty, ten teeth on top and ten on the bottom jaw.  Those on the bottom will come through earlier than those on the top. 

Teeth generally erupt in pairs, so if one comes in on the right side you can start checking the same place on the left side. 

Girls, incidentally, typically get their teeth earlier than do boys. 

Humans begin to develop teeth long before they are born, when they are six weeks into the embryonic stage.  There is a gradual teeth development of specialized cells, but it takes weeks before they begin to organize themselves into what will eventually become the cementum, dentine, and enamel. 

When the fetus is about twenty weeks along, a second set of cells becomes organized beneath this area, and those cells will eventually become the permanent teeth. 

As the baby develops before its birth, the gums and periodontal ligaments form.  After the baby's birth the periodontal ligaments continue to mature, and it is this maturation process that actually triggers the eruption of the first teeth. 

The baby teeth are smaller than the permanent teeth, and they are much whiter, too.  The difference between them is really not so great, but because baby teeth are smaller and conduct light better than permanent teeth, they appear to be much whiter. 

When you take your child for his first dental visit, around the time of his first birthday, the dentist can check to ensure that the teeth are erupting normally and also that they are being cleaned properly. 

This is a time when the parent should only worry about wiping the teeth gently with a cloth after Baby eats, and should never let him or her fall asleep nursing on a bottle -a sure recipe for baby teeth decay

Your dentist probably will not x-ray your child's teeth until he is about five or six years old.  (If he's had decay problems earlier, then the dentist will x-ray his teeth at that time.)  When the first x-ray is done, the dentist will be able to tell that a normal set of secondary teeth is developing below the primary set. 

Once the child reaches approximately age four, his or her jaw and other facial bones will begin to grow faster. 

These bones shift and move slightly during this process, aligning the child's face into what will eventually take on a more mature look.  This process is entirely natural, and it provides room along the jaw for the secondary, or succedaneous, teeth to erupt. 

When your child is about six he will start losing first teeth, and he or she will have a mixture of primary and secondary teeth in his mouth until he's just about 12 years old.

To the top of "Baby Teeth".


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