The importance of baby teeth

They may only have them a few short years, but baby teeth are vital to the development of children’s mouths, eating habits and speech. Meanwhile instilling good dental hygiene in the early years also sets children up for positive dental habits and experiences in the years to come.

So let’s look at baby teeth, their importance and how you can help ensure they go the required distance.

Baby teeth

From the moment baby teeth first start emerging at about six months they have an important role to play in setting up your child’s dental health and wellbeing for life.

Not only do baby teeth facilitate eating and speech, they are also the place holders for adult teeth that are yet to come.

That’s why it’s critical to ensure good dental hygiene habits are instilled early, so these teeth last the required time and make way for the adult teeth that are yet to follow.

Some baby teeth stats

According to the World Health Organization, a whopping 60 to 90 per cent of school age children have dental cavities. That’s partially attributed to the sugar present in modern-day diets, but also comes down to general dental hygiene.

Good habits from the beginning

Dental hygiene is all about instilling good habits from the get-go and for children that should start at about 12 months old, if not earlier. At this stage you can clean their baby teeth with a soft brush and water.

It’s recommended toothpaste should be introduced at around 18 months, and the habit of brushing twice daily should be regular.

Meanwhile, Dental Health Services Victoria offers a great guide for cleaning children’s teeth.

They advise taking the following six steps:

  1. Smear a pea-sized amount of low-flouride toothpaste onto a soft children’s toothbrush.
  2. Sit the child in your lap, facing away from you, or stand behind taller children.  Tilt the child’s head back against your body so you can see all the surfaces of the teeth.
  3. Angle the bristles of the toothbrush towards the gum.  Move the brush in gentle circles to clean the outer sides of the teeth and gums.
  4. Brush in gentle circles on the inside of the teeth and gums.
  5. Brush back and forward on the chewing surface of the teeth.
  6. After brushing all the surfaces, encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste

Baby teeth development

Children have 20 baby teeth and a general rule of thumb is they begin to fall out from about the age of six. It’s important to note this timeframe can vary. Some children may start losing baby teeth at four, others might lose them at seven. This is still considered a normal timeframe.

If your child loses baby teeth before the age of four, you should consult a dentist.

Generally baby teeth fall out in the same pattern as they erupted, with the first two that come out being the bottom front teeth (lower central incisors), followed by the two top front teeth (upper central incisors). The lateral incisors, first baby molars, canines and second molars are then lost in that order.

On average children will have lost eight teeth by the age of eight. The average adolescent will lose all their baby teeth by 14, and girls may lose their teeth faster than boys.

Meanwhile, all 32 adult teeth (including the four wisdom teeth) have usually erupted by the age of 17-21.

First visit to the dentist

The Australian Dental Association recommends children should first see a dentist when their first tooth erupts or by the age of 12 months (whichever occurs first). And like many things in life, it’s a case of the earlier the better.

This first visit allows your dentist to walk through the best practices when it comes to brushing, flossing and protecting baby teeth against trauma.

It also allows your child to become familiar with the routine of attending the dentist. Thereafter your child should visit the dentist at least once a year.

About Brite Dental

Brite Dental is a community-focused dental practice, committed to ensuring you and your family receive the highest quality of care in a warm and professional environment.

Offering a full range of dental services, ranging from children’s dentistry through to high-end cosmetic dentistry, we are conveniently located in central Panania.

You can learn more about our dental services here, or contact us to book your next appointment.