A child’s baby teeth are incredibly important for helping their development. In this post, we’ll discuss the teething process, the role that baby teeth play in a child’s development and how you can help keep their teeth clean and healthy.
Your Child’s Teeth and the Teething Process
You may hear your child’s teeth referred to as baby teeth, milk teeth or deciduous teeth. When these teeth break through your child’s gum line, this is called teething or tooth eruption.
The timing of this differs from child to child. Whereas one child may start to get their baby teeth when they are only a few months old, another may be nearly a year old before their first tooth breaks though the gum line.
As a result, if your child does not have their baby teeth while others of a similar age do, then there’s no need to panic. Generally speaking, your child should have their full set of baby teeth by the time they are around 3.
Each child has a full set of 20 baby teeth. The lower two front teeth are usually the first teeth to appear, followed by the two front teeth in the upper jaw. From the moment the first teeth erupt through the jaw line, you should start to clean them and they should visit the dentist for the first time.
After the front teeth have broken through, they will be followed by the lateral incisors, the first set of upper and lower molars, the canine teeth, and then finally the second set of upper and lower molars.
How Do Baby Teeth Help a Child’s Development?
Baby teeth are incredibly important for a child’s development. This means that, even though they are ultimately designed to fall out, you need to take good care of them. Here are four reasons why baby teeth are so important to your child’s development:
Providing the Foundation for Adult Teeth
Baby teeth help the permanent teeth to develop. They also help to guide adult teeth into the correct position. Some adult teeth do not come through until a child is 12-14 years old and if a baby tooth is lost too soon, then other teeth will shift to fill the gap. This will then mean that there is insufficient room when the adult tooth comes through, causing it to become crooked.
Different teeth in your child’s mouth perform different jobs. As your child moves onto solid foods, their teeth will play a crucial role in helping them learn how to bite and chew correctly.
Their incisors at the front of their mouths are used to take bites out of food and cut the food into small pieces. Canines, meanwhile, will crush and tear the food, while molars at the back can chew, crush and grind food so it can be swallowed. While their teeth are performing such an important job, they need to be looked after correctly.
Teeth also perform an important role in developing a child’s speech, along with their lips and mouth. Teeth control the flow of air from the mouth, helping to form words in the process. When your child moves their tongue and it hits their teeth, they will learn to form different sounds, which will lead to speech. Missing teeth or teeth falling out prematurely may hinder this process.
As well as these three key areas, the appearance of baby teeth can also affect your child’s self-confidence and social skills. Well-presented and clean teeth can lead to a beaming natural smile, which is what every parent wants to see.
Caring for Baby Teeth
As a result of all this, it’s vitally important that you nurture and look after your child’s baby teeth. By establishing a good oral hygiene routine early in your child’s life, not only can you lessen the risk of tooth decay, but you can also start healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
From birth, you should start to gently wipe their mouth and gums with a soft cloth. Then when their first tooth appears, you should begin to brush twice a day using water and a soft toothbrush.
After your child reaches 12-18 months, you can start to add a small amount of children’s toothpaste, before introducing a flossing routine between teeth that touch.
When your child gains the appropriate dexterity, you can then supervise them when they clean their own teeth, passing over the responsibility when you believe they are ready (this is generally around the age of 8 or above).
You should also ensure that your child sees a dentist regularly from the moment that their baby teeth start to show. If your child is currently teething, call us on 07 3300 1277 to arrange an appointment or contact us.