Children’s Teeth

Primary teeth have long been regarded as just a temporary precursor to the more permanent teeth. The front teeth are replaced by the age of 6 years. However, the primary posterior teeth are not replaced by their counterparts until age 10 to 13 years. Primary teeth are important for chewing, maintaining the space for the permanent teeth and helping the normal growth of the jawbones and muscles.

Proper care of baby teeth should begin as soon as they start to appear in the mouth. At first, a moist face cloth should be used to “polish” the teeth, but as more teeth erupt, a child’s toothbrush should be used gently at least twice a day. Fluoride administered in the correct dosage makes enamel stronger. Although many communities have fluoride added to the water, it is also applied to teeth after every professional cleaning.

A fun visit to our office is in order as soon as your child can walk. Prepare your child by telling them about a dental office, and avoiding negative words such as pain, hurt, drill, and pull. Early dental visits foster the establishment of a lifelong relationship between the dental team and the child while serving to enhance the general dental health of the child.

Problems associated with primary teeth:

  • Thumb sucking. This habit usually disappears by the age of 4 years. The persistence of this habit can have a detrimental effect on the teeth and the surrounding bone. Upper teeth are pushed out, lower teeth pushed in, resulting in a gap between upper and lower teeth causing difficulty in chewing, swallowing, and speech. An oral appliance can be placed in the child’s mouth to prevent thumb sucking. This device can break the habit in a few days.
  • Nursing bottle cavities. This is a serious form of decay, which can cause a lot of suffering. It is caused by prolonged exposure of the teeth during sleep to milk, formula or juice. This can easily be avoided by providing the baby with a bottle or warm water at bedtime.
  • Eruption of teeth. Can be a very painful condition. The pain can be alleviated by the use of over counter analgesic drops. Teething rings containing a liquid that can be frozen are very helpful.
  • Dental emergencies. Stay calm in order not to frighten the child any further. Assess the extent of the injury:
    1. Toothache. Clean and floss the area, administer painkillers and phone the dental office.
    2. Swelling. Apply cold compresses.
    3. Cuts and bruises. Apply firm pressure to stop bleeding.
    4. Tooth knocked out. Save tooth in water and go immediately to closest dentist.
  • Grinding (Bruxism). As in bed-wetting, and thumb sucking, one theory involves a psychological component. If the grinding is excessive a night guard may be fitted.
  • Orthodontics. Some malocclusions can be detected very early in life and treatment initiated at this stage can reduce and in some instances prevent the need for expensive future orthodontic treatment.