Milk Teeth: Interesting Facts and Figures

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A cute baby is born with no visible teeth in its mouth. Interestingly, there are 20 fully formed primary teeth or milk teeth lying underneath the gums in a newborn baby. All these teeth develop at around two years of age. Eventually, they loosen and fall out between the ages of 6 – 10 years to give way to adult teeth.

Though babies are not born with any teeth, infants’ teeth begin to develop before they are born. But in most scenarios, they do not come through until they are between 6 and 12 months old.

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After which, children will have a complete set of 20 milk teeth or baby teeth by the time they reach three years. It is the period when children start to eat solid food. Hence they require teeth to chew the solid food. By the time they reach 5 or 6 years, these teeth begin to fall out, making space for adult teeth.

Keep reading about milk teeth and how you can tell if a baby is teething.

What are Milk Teeth?

Milk teeth emerge through a baby’s gums only during the first two years of their life. By the time your infant is around 2.5 years, all 20 of their milk teeth should have fully emerged.

Your infant’s milk teeth usually emerge in the following sequence:

  • The four front teeth of the baby, the central incisors, are the first teeth that emerge. Two teeth in each of the upper and lower jaws of these four teeth start to appear. They appear as early as six months after childbirth.
  • The next step is that the kid’s two lateral incisors in the upper and lower jaws start to grow. By the time the infant reaches 15 months, your child will have a complete set of eight incisors. These are the biting or cutting teeth for your kid.
  • Following this, your kid’s first molars appear, which helps them in grinding food. Two first molar teeth in each jaw emerge. The molars are positioned one space away from the incisors to make space for the canines that would grow in-between. Your child’s first molars develop around the age of 19 months.
  • The cuspid teeth or canine follow after the first molar. These two usually appear in each jaw by the time your child reaches 23 months. Children use these teeth for tearing and allow their baby to manage more textured foods.
  • Lastly, your kid’s second molars start to appear. Again two on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw. Your kid’s second molars will complete the set of 20 milk teeth when they are around the age of 27 months.

When Do Kids Lose Their Milk Teeth?

Many parents are curious to know when their child will start losing their baby teeth. When the permanent teeth in the gums start erupting, it will cause the roots of baby teeth to be reabsorbed. 

By the time the milk teeth are loose, there is very little holding them in place besides only a small amount of tissue. It is then milk teeth start to fall off. Mostly children lose their baby teeth in a specific order. 

Your kid’s teeth ordinarily start to shed when they are around six years old. It is when their incisors, the middle teeth in front, become loose. Your baby’s four molars in the back usually start to shed between ages 10 and 12. The molars are replaced with permanent teeth by the time they reach 13. Your child will have all their permanent teeth in place by this age.

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When their teeth loosen, children usually wiggle their teeth with their fingers or tongues, very eager to hide them under their pillow for the “tooth fairy”. 

If you intend to pull out the already loose tooth, try grasping it firmly with a piece of tissue or gauze and remove it with a quick twist. If the milk teeth are not loosening sufficiently on their own, you might need to take your child to your pediatric dentist. They are experts who might assist you in extracting it.

If your kid accidentally loses their baby teeth or it decays too early, then the permanent teeth may erupt prematurely and become crooked because of limited space. According to orthodontists, about 30 percent of such cases have their origins in the premature loss of baby teeth.

General Timeline for Milk Tooth Development

The pattern in which the milk teeth will emerge can vary from baby to baby. But in general, the following timeline applies:

  • At around 15 months, your baby will have eight teeth.
  • At about 19 months, 12 teeth are present.
  • When your child is 23 months, 16 teeth are present.
  • At around 27 months, they will have 20 teeth.

Once your kid’s set of primary teeth is complete, the baby’s jaws slowly grow, making room for the permanent teeth. Permanent teeth then begin to appear at around six years of age.

Once all their milk teeth have grown, these milk teeth then begin to shed over the next six years. A complete set of permanent teeth finally replaces the baby teeth by 12 years.

Adult teeth

By the age your child becomes 12 – 14 years, most of them have lost all their baby teeth and have their adult teeth.

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A human mouth has 32 adult teeth in total – 12 more than in the baby set. The last 4 of these, at the four corners of the mouth, are called wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth will usually emerge later than the others. Most wisdom teeth generally erupt between the ages of 17 and 21.

Wisdom teeth erupt when all the other teeth have erupted, generally after 17 years. In most cases, they do not come through properly or become impacted. In many, it might be painful, and hence wisdom teeth removal becomes necessary. 

If your wisdom teeth start hurting, the reason could be because they are growing inside your gums. These are called impacted wisdom teeth and might lead to commonly occurring wisdom tooth pain. When they try to break through your gums, it might cause pain, slight swelling, and other complications. 

At that stage, it is best to visit your dentist if you find any problems with your wisdom teeth. In case of impacted wisdom teeth, your dentist might suggest a wisdom tooth removal to relieve the swelling, pain, and infection.

Caring for Milk Teeth

Although your kid’s milk teeth are temporary, they still need to be kept free of tooth decay, cavity and require careful maintenance. Tooth decay could occur very early on in your kid’s life. Note that milk teeth are more prone to tooth decay. They are often referred to as “nursing mouth syndrome” or “baby bottle tooth decay”. The condition will often occur if your baby’s teeth are frequently exposed to sugary liquids for prolonged periods.

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Ways to prevent milk tooth decay in infants are just the same as those for avoiding adult tooth decay. The key is to maintain good oral hygiene. Moreover, your child or infant should not fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, fruit juices, or sweetened liquids. It is the most common cause of tooth decay and can be very harmful to your baby. 

Healthy milk teeth will allow your baby to eat, chew and speak normally. On the other hand, decayed teeth could hamper your child’s ability to eat normally. Affected teeth could affect their growth and development. Additionally, a decayed primary tooth could lead to an infection that might damage their permanent tooth growing underneath.

Why Is It Important to Care for Baby Teeth?

It is indeed true that baby teeth are only for a short period. They play a vital role in the life of a baby. Hence you need to take care of your kid’s teeth and maintain good oral hygiene from the very childhood.

  • Baby’s milk teeth reserve space for their permanent counterparts.
  • Baby teeth give your child’s face its normal appearance.
  • These teeth aid in the development of their clear speech.
  • Your kid’s teeth will help attain good nutrition as decayed or missing teeth could make it difficult to chew, making your child to reject food items. 
  • Your kid’s teeth will help give a healthy start to permanent teeth. Any kind of infection or decay can cause damage to the permanent teeth developing just beneath them. 

Being a parent, you need to understand the issues that decaying baby teeth might cause, especially in permanent teeth. You should take your baby to the dentist by the age of 1 or within six months after their first tooth comes in.

Brushing and Flossing Milk Teeth

Your child might need some help while brushing until they are between ages 7 and 10. Even if their intentions are good, your child may not have the know-how to clean their teeth well. 

Ideally, your child should brush their teeth for five minutes to ten minutes just after eating their meal. Also, for long-term dental health, your kid should take care of their gums as well. You should also teach them to floss regularly, preferably once a day. Dental flossing will help prevent gum disease and periodontal disease in adulthood.

In addition, a tartar-control toothpaste could help keep plaque from adhering to your child’s teeth. The fluoride in the toothpaste helps prevent cavities and also strengthen the exposed outer enamel of your youngster’s teeth.

Fluoride is good for your teeth. If your tap water at home has less than the recommended levels, your dentist might suggest that you add fluoride to your kid’s diet when they are 6 months old. 

Else you can opt to get fluoride as part of a vitamin supplement. Your pediatric dentist might suggest that fluoride treatment should continue until the age 16. Ask your dentist for guidance.

Milk Teeth Dental Checkups

You should make sure your youngster gets dental checkups at least twice a year for cleaning, as well as for X-rays if recommended by your pediatric dentist Dubai. As a parent, you might choose to utilize a pediatric dentist, a periodontist, or a dentist with special interest and expertise in children’s dentistry. 

You should aim for regular preventive appointments to decrease your baby’s chances of undergoing major dental treatment. Hence you should contact your dentist whenever your kid complains of tooth pain. This tooth pain could be a symptom of a decayed tooth or something more severe. Until your dentist can examine your baby, they cannot treat the tooth pain.

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