Most children have 20 baby teeth or primary teeth.
These serve to help bite and chew food efficiently and permit normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. They also act as “place-holders” for the permanent teeth.
If they fall out or need to be extracted before they are ready to fall out naturally, it can affect the way permanent teeth erupt later.
Other teeth may drift to fill the space, increasing the chances of needing future orthodontic treatment. Missing teeth can be associated with poor speech, social stresses and other habits.
While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
Children’s teeth begin forming before birth.
As early as 4 months, the first primary (or baby) teeth to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors.
Although all 20 primary teeth usually appear by age 3, the sequence of their eruption varies. Permanent teeth begin appearing around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors.
This process continues until around age 21.
Also known as bruxism is common in children, especially under 7 years old and most commonly while sleeping.
While children are young, before permanent teeth are present, their bites are flexible and change as they grow. Once the first permanent molars erupt at about 6 years old, the permanent bite begins to establish itself and tooth grinding tends to subside.
The grinding decreases between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12.
Typically, no treatment is required. Stress related grinding is common in middle-school and high-school aged students, especially during testing or final exams.
The doctors will monitor your child’s bite as well as chipping and wear patterns on the teeth. A mouth guard may be recommended if grinding persists in the adult permanent teeth.
Most children stop thumb, finger or pacifier habits by 2-4 years old.
In children that continue the habit, the front teeth may tip outward or not come in properly. The amount of time per day and the intensity of the sucking can affect the extent to which the habit will impact your child’s teeth.
The more intense the sucking is and the more time per day, the more likely your child’s bite and jaw growth will be affected.
We will closely monitor your child’s teeth and bite. The encouragement from our doctors and as a parent is usually enough to help most children stop their sucking habit.
If your child needs a little extra help, early orthodontic treatment may be necessary depending on each individual child.
One serious form of decay among young children is baby bottle tooth decay, also referred to by dentists as early childhood caries.
It’s caused by exposures of an infant’s teeth to liquids that contain sugar—milk (including breast milk), formula, fruit juice and other sweetened drinks.
Putting a baby to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water can cause serious and rapid tooth decay.
Liquid pools around the teeth giving plaque bacteria an opportunity to produce acids that attack tooth enamel.
If you must give the baby a bottle as comfort at bedtime, fill it with water.
If your child won't drink the water, gradually dilute the bottle's normal beverage contents with water over a period of 2-3 weeks.
After each feeding, wipe the baby’s gums and teeth with a damp washcloth to remove plaque.
This is very common, especially the front lower incisors. If the baby teeth are loose, they may come out own their own within a few weeks.
If the baby teeth are not loose, your dentist may need to extract the baby teeth to allow the adult tooth to grow in its proper location.
Permanent teeth normally have a more yellowish hue compared to baby “milk” teeth due to the thicker yellow middle dentin layer.
This is healthy anatomy. Whitening or bleaching is not recommended on these new permanent teeth due to increased sensitivity that may occur.