February 3, 2010

Primary Dentition

Primary (Baby) Teeth Eruption

In some babies, teeth can appear at birth. But by and large, a child’s primary, or baby, teeth come in at about six or seven months of age. All of a child’s baby teeth should be in by the age of three. At five or six, the adult, or permanent, teeth begin to push these baby teeth out.

This process goes on through the early teen years. In the end, the twenty baby teeth will be replaced by thirty-two teeth. Twenty-eight permanent teeth and four wisdom teeth usually – though not always – erupt in late adolescence.

The Importance of Baby Teeth

Baby teeth help shape kids’ faces and promote correct speech patterns. They also hold space in the jaw for the adult teeth, and they help kids chew their food. So, even though these teeth will be lost, they are as important as adult teeth are to oral health.

Dental Trauma and Baby Teeth

Age two or three, when kids’ motor skills are developing, is when most baby teeth are injured. Kids may injure their teeth through common actions like eating, running, or playing.

If a baby tooth is fractured, chipped, loosened, or even knocked out of the mouth (avulsed), consult a dentist right away. The dentist will devise a plan that’s right for the type and severity of the injury. At times, a tooth may need to come out to avoid harm to the adult tooth below.

Avulsed (Knocked Out) Baby Tooth

When a baby tooth is knocked out, a dentist should see the child right away to rule out the risk of bone fracture or other damage. Premature loss of baby teeth can lead to badly aligned adult teeth. A dentist may opt to use a space retainer, which can be easily removed, in these cases.

A retainer has an aesthetic function, but it can also help the child regain oral or phonetic function. In most cases, a knocked out baby tooth will not be re-inserted in the mouth due to the chance this may harm the adult tooth below.

Chipped or Fractured Baby Teeth

Like a tooth that has been knocked out, a chipped or fractured baby tooth may need to be removed. That decision will be made by the dentist, who should see the child right away after the dental trauma takes place.

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