Baby Teeth, Teething and Infant Teething

Also known as primary teeth or deciduous teeth, baby teeth refers to he teeth that children grow.  Unlike permanent teeth or adult teeth, baby teeth are temporary and fall out to make way for permanent teeth.  Baby teeth are teeth that are designed to fit infant jaws that are far too small to accommodate permanent teeth.  Baby teeth grow in children through the process of teething and remain in a child until their jaws have grown to its mature size.

Infant teething begins between the ages of 6 months to 1 year of a baby’s life when baby teeth begin to push through the gums.  This stage is referred to as the eruption of teething and this is a process that continues until a child has reached the age of six.  At the point of the eruption of teething, the formation of the crown (the portion of a tooth covered by enamel) is completed and the root is almost fully formed.

The early infant teething process continues until the child has reached the age of three.  By this age, the child should have a set of twenty baby teeth with a total of ten teeth in the lower jaw and ten teeth in the upper jaw.  Each jaw contains a set of baby teeth that is comprised of four incisor teeth, two canine teeth, and four molars.  The function of baby teeth is vital to a child’s development, as their molar teeth are used to grind food while the incisors and canine teeth are used to bite into and tear food.

Teething usually continues until the age of six where the child’s jaw and jaw muscles have grown to the size and strength needed to support permanent teeth.  By this point, children will begin to lose their baby teeth as permanent teeth begin to push through their gums.  These stages of teething are an essential component to healthy teeth development.  However, to reach this stage of permanent teeth growth, it is important that parents ensure their child’s oral health as they go through infant teething.

Some issues that parents should be aware of when their children are undergoing the teething process include:

Beginning regular dental check-ups for their children between the times of their child’s first tooth and their first birthday.  Regular dental check-ups will go a long way to ensuring healthy teeth development in a child. Brushing their child’s baby teeth after they have appeared with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water.  This will help prevent tooth decay in a child’s baby teeth.  Toothpaste should not be used until the child has reached the age of two. Often parents become concerned when eruption cyst develops.  These cysts occur after a baby tooth is pushing up through the gums and the tooth will eventually replace this watery sac as it grows.  These are generally harmless and parents should not attempt to get rid of these eruption cysts. Often sore or tender gums will become noticeable as babies begin to teeth.  To help the child, it is recommended that parents gently rub their child’s gum with either: a clean finger; a small, cool spoon; or a wet gauze pad.  Sometimes, dentists will recommend the use of a pacifier, teething ring, or a special ”numbing” salve to help the child’s gums handle infant teething. Although teething is a stage that every child has to go through, there are some signs that parents should look for that may indicate that infant teething is developing in an irregular way.  Fussiness, sleeplessness, irritability, appetite loss, or drooling is not unusual behavior for babies during teething.  However, conditions like diarrhea, rashes, and fever are not normal and a physician should be contacted if any of these behaviors continue.
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