For days, your baby cries inconsolably – fussing and fretting her tiny heart out. Then suddenly, it appears – her first tooth! You sigh with relief. The trauma is over.
But there’s 19 more waiting in the wings, hiding just out of sight in your baby’s gums. By the time your baby reaches her first birthday, she’ll probably have all four front teeth, and, by the age of three, she’ll have all 20 primary teeth. That means more future fussing.
The next time your baby seems to be teething, gently rub her gums with a clean finger, cool spoon or wet gauze pad. A clean teething ring may also help comfort her. But if she comes down with a fever, call your doctor. Contrary to popular belief, that’s not a normal part of teething.
These teeth are not permanent, and will eventually be claimed by the Tooth Fairy as adult teeth push their way in. Still, it’s important to follow and teach good oral health to your baby. Tooth decay can begin as soon as the first teeth appear, and, if the primary teeth get decayed, her adult teeth may be damaged too.
To prevent this from happening, begin the twice-daily ritual of brushing and flossing as soon as the first teeth appear, and get in to see your dentist before her first birthday. You can also keep these important placeholders healthy by feeding her a balanced diet, and supplying her with healthy snacks from one of the five food groups instead of sugary sweets and candy.
It is also very important to limit sipping and nibbling with snacks and drinks. If teeth are constantly exposed to any kind of sugar (even from nutritious foods) they will develop cavities.
How Teeth Grow: Stage Two
Soon after you cross the milestone of your child’s first day of school, her mouth will begin changing again. It will start with the arrival of her six-year molars when she’s between five and six years old. These may be her very first adult teeth, and they are very important because they help determine the shape of her occlusion (bite) and the development of her lower face. You’ll want to pay special attention to these teeth so they last throughout your child’s lifetime. Many others will follow these molars over the next 15 years. By the time she’s 21 years old, she’ll have all 32 of her adult teeth.
Out of Line:
Sometime between the ages of 6 and 12, you may notice that your child’s teeth seem crooked, crowded or out of alignment. Her jaw may even appear to be not lining up correctly.
When this happens, it’s called a malocclusion (bad bite), and usually necessitates orthodontic treatment. If you ignore it, hoping she’ll “grow out of it,” she could face several difficulties:
- Difficulty keeping the teeth and gums clean where teeth are crooked or crowded, which can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Interference with the proper development of the jaws.
- Teeth are more easily chipped or fractured.
- Problems with normal speech.
- Teeth are more likely to wear faster than those that are properly aligned.
The best thing to do to prevent these problems is have her bite evaluated by your New Brunswick Dental Society dentist before it becomes an issue. Early examination and treatment by your dentist can help prevent or reduce the severity of malocclusions in the permanent teeth.
Your dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment – either to prevent or to correct a problem before it becomes severe. Although there are many variables that make it impossible to predict how long or how extensive orthodontic treatment will be, one thing’s certain – it will go much more smoothly and quickly if your child cooperates. So make sure she understands how important orthodontic treatment is to her future health and appearance.
That covers all you need to know about the development of your child’s teeth. If you have more questions, give your dentist a call. Your dentist will be your best resource and your biggest ally when it comes to keeping your child’s smile beautiful and bright throughout her life.