Deciduous (baby) teeth are very important for the health of children. These teeth will help your child learn to speak correctly and chew food so they can grow. Early loss of baby teeth can cause serious consequences for the permanent teeth.
Baby teeth begin to erupt around six months of age, but this is only an approximation. There is no cure for teething pain. Chew toys and a baby pain reliever are still the only options. Usually the lower front teeth come first. By 24 months, the final teeth have erupted. The lower front teeth are usually the first to fall out, beginning around age 5 or 6, but can be up to age 8. Also around this time, the permanent first molars begin to erupt. By age 12 or 13, all the baby teeth have been lost and the permanent teeth have erupted.
There is no set time for when braces (orthodontic treatment) need to be started. It is dependent on the problem that exists. Cross bite and severe crowding problems are usually treated early. Deep bites (overbites) that are not corrected create a lot of problems when the child becomes an adult. Almost everyone with a deep bite develops some TMJ problems. These range from headaches, to fractured teeth, to periodontal bone loss.
Decay on baby teeth should be taken care of immediately. These teeth are smaller than permanent teeth and the enamel layer is very thin. Within a very short period of time, decay can advance from a small hole on the outside to affecting the nerve. Time is critical. Also, children should not be given a bottle at bedtime unless the only liquid in the bottle is water. “Baby Bottle” syndrome will devastate baby teeth.
Around 18 months is a good time for a child’s first visit. At this time, the dentist will at least look in the mouth to see how the teeth have erupted and will answer any questions you may have. To best prepare the child for the visit, tell them that the dentist will count their teeth and they will go for a chair ride. Too much information will only add confusion.