The primary teeth, which are also called “baby teeth,” are as important as the adult permanent teeth. Baby teeth help your child eat and speak. They also guide the permanent teeth into their proper positions. If a baby tooth is lost too soon, the permanent teeth may drift into the vacant space, which makes it difficult for other adult teeth to have room to come in properly. This can cause crowded or crooked teeth.
The first primary tooth usually erupts at about six months of age, but it can come in as early as three months or as late as one year. Generally speaking, every six months of a child’s life, about four teeth will come in. Girls usually begin tooth eruption sooner than boys. The lower teeth usually come in before the upper teeth. The baby teeth usually erupt in pairs, one on the left and one on the right. By the time your child turns two or three years old, all of the baby teeth should have come in. Keep in mind that the primary teeth are smaller and whiter than the permanent teeth that will come later.
It is important to care for your baby’s gums and then their teeth. Before the teeth grow in, use a piece of gauze or a soft, moistened washcloth to wipe your baby’s gums at least twice a day. Take extra care after feedings and before bed. Once your baby’s teeth begin to come in, you can switch to a toothbrush. Choose one that has soft bristles, a small head, and a large handle. Just use water on the toothbrush until the teeth actually break through the gums. Then you can switch to using a small amount of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. When your child is about three, you can increase to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Brush all surfaces of your child’s teeth, front and back.
For more information about baby teeth and to schedule an appointment with our dentists in Falls Church, Virginia, contact our office today. Dr. Hauptman, Dr. Rowhani, and our team are excited to serve you!