Baby teeth, also called primary teeth or deciduous teeth, have the same functions as adult teeth; they tear, grind and crush food to prepare it for digestion. There are 20 baby teeth in total, with ten teeth on each jaw. The teeth on the lower jaw are the first to erupt; they emerge when an infant is between six and ten months old. The teeth on the upper jaw emerge a few months later. Children typically start to lose their baby teeth when they are about six years old, and they have most of their permanent teeth by the time they are twelve. Wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to grow in and don’t emerge until a person is in their late teens or early twenties. To put it simply, children’s dentistry is important because baby teeth are important.
Why Are Baby Teeth Important?
Baby teeth may last only a few years, but it is still important to take good care of them. They help the child chew, smile and speak. They also hold a place in the jaw for the permanent teeth developing under them. If a child loses a baby tooth too early, the permanent teeth under it can drift out of place and cause the surrounding permanent teeth to become crowded and/or crooked. In addition, helping a child take good care of their baby teeth helps them develop good habits, so they can eventually take good care of their permanent teeth.
When Should a Child First Go to the Dentist?
Generally speaking, a baby’s first trip to the dentist should happen after their first tooth has emerged, and it should not be any later than the child’s first birthday. During an appointment, our dentist can check for problems like cavities, and he can teach the parent how to clean the teeth properly. As the child gets older, the dentist can help the parents handle bad habits like thumb-sucking, if the child hasn’t grown out of such habits on their own. This is just one aspect of children’s dentistry services.
How to Clean Baby Teeth
A parent should get in the habit of cleaning a child’s teeth even before they emerge. After every feeding, the parent should clean the baby’s gums with a damp and clean washcloth or a toothbrush designed for babies with a small head and soft bristles.
After the first baby tooth grows in, the parent should brush it with a non-fluoride toothpaste. The parent needs to brush the gum line and the front and back of the tooth. Like adult teeth, baby teeth need to be brushed twice a day. The parent should begin flossing the child’s teeth when they have two adjacent teeth that touch.
Children’s dentistry is crucial when it comes to having and maintaining optimal health and wellness for your child. At Implant Dentistry of Virginia, we don’t just offer implants and dentures. We also offer a range of children’s dentistry services for your little ones. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at our office in Virginia Beach.