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Baby teeth- just as important as Adult teeth

Baby teeth development and teething

Did you know that before your child is even born his or her baby teeth start to develop? This makes pregnancy an extremely important time to promote your developing baby’s oral health. Baby teeth begin as tooth buds that start to develop around six weeks into a pregnancy. The hard tissue, known as the enamel and dentin, begins to form around 18-20 weeks. The first baby teeth usually begin to emerge around 6 months of age and most children will have all 20 of their baby teeth by the time they are 2 ½ years old. When babies are “teething”, they may experience drooling, disrupted sleep and pain. A cold teething ring, rubbing the gums with a clean finger, or a cool spoon, or possibly over the counter pain medication as recommended by your doctor or dentist should help to ease teething pain. Fever, diarrhea or seizures are NOT are not typical responses to teething and may require medical attention.

It is important to keep baby teeth healthy in order to avoid dental disease such as tooth decay. Baby teeth are often thought of as “place holders” and it is important that they are not prematurely lost. Adult teeth are often visible and ready to erupt as soon as baby teeth fall out. Baby teeth help to maintain space within the arches while adult teeth are developing which helps to prevent crowding of adult teeth.

Types of teeth

There are four types of teeth in the mouth:
1) There are eight incisors at the front of the mouth in both the baby and adult teeth, which have a sharp biting surface.
2) The four canines in the baby and adult teeth are at the corners of your smile. They are used to grip and tear foods.
3) The eight premolars (bicuspids) appear only as adult teeth and have flat surfaces and are used to crush foods.
4) The molars are the biggest teeth in your mouth; their flat surfaces are used to chew and crush food. There are eight baby molars which are replaced by adult premolars when they fall out.

In total, there are twelve adult molars including the wisdom teeth. The first four permanent molars are called “six-year molars” and are so named because they typically erupt when a child is about six years of age. The next four molars erupt at around age twelve and finally, the ‘wisdom teeth’ typically emerge in late adolescence. There is often not enough space available in the mouth for emergence of 3rd molars, which is why some people need their wisdom teeth removed in their late teens.



Additional Resources

Canadian dental association

Dental Health Foundation Ireland


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