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How Much Do You Know About Your Child's Milky Teeth?

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Some Facts You Need to Know About Baby's Teeth:
  • Children's teeth "also called milky or deciduous teeth" are the primary teeth that start to appear in your baby's mouth as early as 5 months of age.
  • They start to form and develop long before birth.
  • By the age of 3 years, all of the twenty primary teeth are present in the mouth.
  • They all vary in their order of appearance, pace and time of loss.
  • The first permanent tooth appears around 6 years of age.
  • The last primary tooth is to be lost usually around 12-13 years old.
  • The age between 6 and 12 years is called the "mixed dentition stage" when some of both primary and permanent teeth coexist in the mouth.

Their Importance:
These milky teeth serve the logical functions of mastication (chewing), speech (pronunciation) and appearance (how we look in front of others), same as their permanent successors.

But another major function only the primary teeth has, and parents seem not to see or well-estimate, is their importance as guiders of the future permanent teeth to their right positions in the mouth and to their proper alignment in the oral cavity.

To enable your children’s teeth to do their functions, play their roles and fulfill their destinies, they have to be kept healthy and clean as possible through their full serving time.

yes, because each deciduous tooth has a nearly specific time called “Shedding Time” on which it will be normally lost from your child’s mouth.

Losing a milky tooth so early before its time jeopardizes the eruption “gradual appearance” of the permanent tooth beneath it, which is supposed to come up in the same space of lost primary one, as this space tends to be closed by the migration “movement” of the neighboring primary teeth into this same space, thereafter disturbing the eruption and arrangement of the permanent ones.

Leading later on life, to the painful, very expensive and very long orthodontic treatments to rearrange the permanent teeth using braces, for instance.

With this knowledge, parents’ awareness to protect a child’s primary teeth arises through:

  1. Daily home care and good oral hygiene habits passing them to the child.
  2. Regular check ups to the children’s dental clinic.


Q.s & A.s on How to Take Care of Your Child's Teeth:

Q: When should I start caring for my child's teeth and how?

  • Good dental hygiene habits should start before the first tooth shows up.
  • Wipe your baby's gums with a damp soft cloth after feeding. It will prevent bacteria from building up in the mouth.
  • When his baby teeth begin to erupt, use a small-sized, soft tooth brush twice a day.
  • Once the child reaches the pre-school age ,you can start using fluoride tooth-paste. Don't cover the brush with tooth paste, only a pea-sized amount is just right amount. Young children tend to swallow most of the tooth paste. Swallowing too much fluoride could cause them permanent stains on their teeth.

Q: Does diet affect my child's teeth?

  • Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth.
  • The less sweet, starchy and sticky food, the better. These kinds tend to stay longer and adhere to the teeth surfaces causing decay.
  • Fruits and vegetables are better as snack meals. They will help teeth growth.

Q: What is "baby-bottle" tooth decay?

  • When your baby goes to bed with a bottle of milk or juice, he is more likely to have tooth decay.
  • That’s because the sugar in the milk or the juice stays in contact with the teeth during the night for a long time, during which the washing effect of saliva normally decreases, thus inviting decay rapidly to the teeth.


Tips to Avoid Baby-bottle Tooth Decay:

  • Put your child to bed with a bottle of plain water, not milk or juice.
  • Stop nursing when your child is asleep or has stopped sucking on the bottle.
  • Try not to let your child walk around using a bottle of milk or juice as a pacifier.
  • Start to teach your child to drink from a cup at about 6 months of age. Plan to stop using a bottle by 12 to 14 months at the latest.
  • Don't dip your child's pacifier in honey or sugar.

Q: Does teething make the baby sick?

  • No, it doesn't.
  • When teeth are coming up, your child might feel a little sore.
  • You could rub the gum gently with your finger to relieve your child.
  • Let your child chew on a teething ring or a pacifier, he/she will like it.

 Q: Is thumb sucking bad for my child?

  • Normally the baby likes to suck his thumb or the pacifier.
  • This habit tends to usually decrease and stop around the age of four, and no harm is done at that level.
  • If this habit continues with the child over 4 years of age, the dentist must watch for any problem if present.
  • Start worrying if it stays till 5 and 6 years of age, that's when the first permanent tooth erupts.

Q: When should I start taking my child to the dentist?
  • The ADA, American Dental Association, recommends parents to start taking their child to the dentist around his/her first birthday.
  • A pediatric dentist "pedodontist " is specialized to treat children.
  • He will be able to identify any early problem and deal with it.
  • The pedodontist will give you ideas about the best diet and oral hygiene instructions you ought to follow with your child.
  • Early visits establishes the good habit of regular dental check-ups.
  • Your pedodontist is able to recognise any early decay or caries "the black monster the eats up the tooth" and remove it, or even prevent it from forming, by the aid of new materials, techniques and therapies that have changed the face of dentistry nowadays and made your dental clinic visit more enjoyable, convenient, satisfactory and less painful for both the patient and the dentist.

Here are some of the preventive measures and treatments your child could receive in a dental clinic:

Fissure Sealant:
A preventive material used to seal “cover” the fissures and grooves on the masticating “chewing” surfaces of the primary and young permanent teeth, because they are the most susceptible areas for caries and decay. This sealant makes these surfaces easier for cleaning and brushing.

Topical Fluoride Application:
Fluoride, proved to be the most effective chemical substance in reducing the occurrence of dental caries.
 It could be applied topically hindering a tooth surface smooth and more resistant to caries.

Dental Cavity Fillings Like:
Glass ionomers, compomers and composites which are used to fill the cavities made after removing the decay. They are all tooth-colored materials resembling the natural color of the tooth.

Stainless–steel Crowns:
They are ready made metal crowns used incase the primary tooth was badly destructed and weakened by the loss of a great amount of its structure. These crowns protect the tooth against any further breakage.  


Space Maintainers:
Incase a primary tooth was massively decayed and couldn’t be saved, that it was removed too early, a simple device called the space maintainer is customized to keep the gap and prevent it from being closed by the neighboring teeth. It is used until it is the time for the permanent tooth below to erupt.
Mira Bosso -
Dr. Mira Bosso is a Syrian dentist based in Kuwait. She graduated with honors from 6th of October University in Egypt.Read More >>

Last Updated on Monday, 25 December 2006 22:11  

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