All About Baby Teeth

Your child’s primary teeth or “baby teeth” are important for their development and how they will chew their food, smile, and speak. Do your child’s baby teeth really need to be cared for that much — since they’re going to fall out anyway? Absolutely!  In addition to good at-home oral care, your child will also need to go to the dentist and orthodontist in Melbourne, FL at the right age. Here’s why those baby teeth are so important.

When Baby Teeth Come In

Everyone loves that gummy, toothless smile that babies have for the first few months of life. Believe it or not, all 20 of the baby’s primary teeth are usually already there, from the moment of birth. They just haven’t erupted from the gums yet. Babies can get fussy and cranky when those teeth start growing in, when they are about to erupt through the gums.

Your baby’s first tooth usually erupts between 6 months and 1 year of age. The front teeth on the top and bottom (more commonly bottom) are typically the first ones to appear. That first tooth is going to be uncomfortable, and your baby will let you know it!  A teething ring or a cool, wet cloth to chew on can help relieve some of the discomfort in your baby’s gums.

Your baby’s first trip to the dentist can happen anytime after that first baby tooth erupts. It’s recommended that this visit take place before the child’s first birthday, though. The dentist will do a short exam and explain how to brush and care for your baby’s teeth as they continue to erupt.  Education about diet, detrimental habits, and at-home oral care are much more important than a professional cleaning at this stage.  That is why this first visit is so important to prevent future problems, not to fix problems that have already occurred.  

Why Baby Teeth Are So Important

The 20 baby teeth are placeholders for the adult teeth that we all eventually have. Permanent molars do not have baby teeth as placeholders, so there are normally 32 adult teeth instead of 20.  The adult or “permanent teeth” are making their way inward from the jaw as your child grows. If a baby tooth is lost too early, it creates a gap in the row of teeth that can lead to the right permanent teeth erupting early or it can lead to unwanted shifting of baby and/or permanent teeth. This can create potential orthodontic problems for later in life, and is one of the reasons why so many people end up with teeth that are not perfectly straight.

First Visit to the Orthodontist in Melbourne, FL

It is recommended that all children have their first orthodontic visit by the age of 7. They should have a combination of baby teeth and fully erupted permanent teeth by then. Orthodontists are able to project the direction and straightness of all of a child’s future permanent teeth, through the use of X-rays and years of specialized training. Orthodontists can also spot structural problems with the jaws or facial features.

Your child’s first trip to the orthodontist is basically a checkup. There won’t be any discomfort or pain involved. If the orthodontist does spot potential problems, they will discuss treatment options with you and lay out a plan of action. A course of treatment will be different for every child, but may involve:

  • Recommended extraction of some baby teeth to make more room in the jawline for permanent teeth.
  • Prescription of an orthodontic appliance to deal with an oral problem.
  • Recommended braces either at a young age or later

The Most Important Thing Parents Can Do

The best thing that parents can do for children as their baby teeth are erupting and later falling out to make room for permanent teeth is to instill good oral hygiene habits. Make sure that your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day, as early as possible. You will also want to supervise your child until they are old enough to use the right amount of toothpaste and are brushing properly. If brushing and flossing become lifelong habits, your child’s teeth will continue looking sparkly-white into adulthood, and they’ll have fewer problems from cavities or gum disease.

Contact Us for Your Child’s First Orthodontic Visit

If it’s time for your child’s first trip to the orthodontist in Melbourne, FL, contact Melbourne Orthodontics to schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!