Milk teeth

Let’s take a closer look at a tooth. The crown is the part that can be seen in the mouth, while buried in the bony socket of the jaw firmly enclosed is the root. The crown of the tooth is covered with the enamel. Enamel is one of the hardest natural substances known and forms the outermost protective layer. The Dentin, which lies just under the enamel is yellowish and is not as hard as enamel. This forms the bulk of the tooth. The soft tissue that fills the chamber of the center of the tooth and the canals that extends down the roots forms the pulp of the tooth. It contains nerves and blood vessels. Cementum is a thin bone like tissue which covers and protects the tooth root.

Why are the Primary Teeth so Important?

There are twenty primary teeth, which can be seen, in a baby’s mouth, 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 molars. These are called as milk teeth or more scientifically deciduous teeth. These primary teeth are designed to function during the childhood years. Some of them until the child is 10 or 12 years old – and they have several important jobs to do. Primary teeth are foundation teeth.

They are in fact as important as the permanent teeth. Let us see why –

  • The baby teeth help in chewing and digestion – physical and partial chemical digestion before the food is chemically digested by the gastric juices.
  • The baby teeth are necessary for speech development e.g. the words th, f, and lisping sounds require front teeth to pronounce.
  • Building the Childs confidence. The baby teeth help in appearance or aesthetics. Without the front teeth, peers, leading to reluctance to smile, mix with others and make new friends, could tease the child.
  • Probably the most important function of the baby teeth is to maintain sufficient space for the adult (permanent) teeth to erupt into the correct position. The first adult tooth (first molar teeth) starts developing when the fetus is 7-8 months in utero (in the mother’s womb) and will continue to develop as the child grows. It finally erupts in the mouth from the age of 6. The primary teeth are therefore very necessary in guiding these adult teeth into the correct straight position.

When will my Baby Start Getting Teeth?

Six months of age is when most babies start teething. By two years of age, they will have all 20 baby teeth. During this time, your child may show the signs of teething including drooling, sucking, biting, gum rubbing, facial rash, irritability, restlessness, decreased appetite and possibly even a mild elevation in temperature. Symptoms typically last from 4 days before a tooth emerges until 3 days afterward. During these periods, comfort your baby with teething rings or a cold washcloth to bite on. Massaging the gums, increasing fluid intake and providing non-aspirin analgesics will also help provide relief to our youngest of patients.

Taking Care of your Child’s Teeth

Although many parents don’t think too much about their toddler’s or preschooler’s teeth, it is important to do so, because 20 percent of them develop cavities before they are 5 years old.

Good dental hygiene habits should begin before your child’s first tooth comes in. Wiping your baby’s gums with a soft damp cloth after feedings helps to prevent the build up of bacteria. When teeth appear, start using a soft children’s toothbrush twice a day.

Once your child is preschool-age, start using fluoride toothpaste. Don’t cover the brush with toothpaste; a pea-sized amount is just right. Young children tend to swallow most of the toothpaste, and swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause permanent stains on their teeth.