Looking after your oral health is a lifelong commitment. While it may be a lot of work to care for the teeth of fussy infants and squirmy toddlers, your children will reap the rewards of your effort in a healthy mouth, gums and teeth. Here's where it begins.
Understanding Primary Dentition
This is the first stage of tooth development in children. The term refers to the arrival of 20 deciduous teeth that erupt during the infant years, including four incisor teeth, two canines and four molars in each jaw. During pregnancy, the fetus' jawline develops along with enlargements that later become teeth. These begin erupting through gum tissue around 6 months after birth, with one or two teeth appearing every month.
The first teeth to erupt are bottom central incisors followed by the top four front teeth, according to the American Dental Association. The rest arrive in pairs, one on each side, until the child has 10 upper and 10 lower teeth. This commonly occurs between 2 and 3 years, and the teeth last until 6 or 7 years when they start to shed. By 13 years, a child's primary teeth are mostly replaced by permanent teeth.
Factors That May Influence Eruption
Teething results in sleepless nights that can be exhausting for parents. Hopefully your child develops his or her teeth without incident. For parents eagerly anticipating baby teeth, these factors, listed by the Cleveland Clinic, may help you estimate the emergence of primary dentition:
- Girls get their teeth earlier than boys, on average. The exception is the first upper molar, which may arrive earlier in boys.
- The teeth in the lower jaw (mandible) erupt before those in the upper jaw (maxilla).
- Children who are shorter than average may experience a slight delay in the eruption of primary teeth.
- Patients living in warmer regions have earlier eruption of teeth than in colder regions.
- People living in urban areas appear to get teeth faster than those in rural areas.
- Children from disadvantaged social backgrounds may have delayed eruption of teeth.
- A child's rank in the family can affect the eruption of teeth, with the last-born child getting teeth later than older children.
Primary Dentition Disorders
Patients of any age can experience dental disorders, and the problems commonly associated with primary teeth are eruption-related disorders. These include abnormal eruption patterns, early or late eruption, or premature eruption.
Early eruption commonly applies to individual teeth. However, if many teeth erupt early, it could indicate hyperthyroidism. Premature eruption is when immature teeth erupt still in their bud form. This can be a result of infection or trauma to the mouth.
The cause of early, late or premature large-scale eruption may be genetic or it could be a sign of the following:
- Vitamin A or D deficiency, or other systemic disorders
- Metabolic disorders
- Infections or traumas
Occasionally, a primary tooth may be impacted, which could cause an infection.
Another primary dentition disorder is an eruption cyst, which is a sac containing fluid that forms on top of an erupting tooth, says the Virtual Medical Centre. This is usually a raised, oval mound with a bluish color, and it's possible to compress it gently. Cysts typically resolve themselves after the tooth erupts, and no treatment is usually required. If a cyst remains after the tooth comes through, take the child to a pediatric dentist for an oral evaluation.
Care and Management
It's never too early to being teaching your child good oral hygiene habits based on daily brushing and flossing with kid-friendly products, such as Colgate Minions Mild Bubble Fruit toothpaste. Specially formulated for ages 2 and up, the toothpaste is clinically proven to promote cavity and enamel protection, and to strengthen and protect developing teeth.
Taking care of your child's teeth from day one is vital to ensure optimal dental health for decades. But don't forget to enjoy those special moments when your baby cuts those very first teeth!