The first baby teeth, known as primary teeth, usually appear as early as 3-4 months of age, but really start to erupt through the gums between the ages of 6 months to one year of age. Many parents think baby teeth don’t matter because they’ll eventually fall out but the truth is, those baby teeth are important, even if you can’t see them and even if they will eventually be replaced with permanent adult teeth.
Baby teeth are in fact, extremely important!
Not only do baby teeth help children chew and speak, they also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early due to cavities, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded.
More than 50% of children will be affected by tooth decay before the age five. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come.
Contributing factors to early childhood decay:
- Diets high in sugar
- A high frequency of snacking and/or frequent meals as well as sticky and sugary snacks.
- Sustained use of the baby bottle or sippy cup (especially at bed time)
- Lack of tooth brushing and flossing
- Limited access to fluoridated water
To prevent cavities:
- Keep your child’s teeth clean. This is the easiest way to keep teeth healthy.
- Limit sugar filled foods and drinks (particularly for babies). Milk, juice and formula all contain sugar. Avoid using the bottle and sippy cup to sooth your child. Fill them with water instead.
- Visit the dentist by age one or within six months of when you see the first tooth. Through regular examinations your dentist will monitor the development of your child’s teeth and gums to catch problems early and prevent disease.