At Children’s Dental Group, our West Carson pediatric dentist is often asked, “If baby teeth fall out after a couple of years, why is it important to care for them?” Although primary teeth (baby teeth) are only in your mouth for a short period of time, they do play a critical role. Baby teeth actually reserve space for permanent teeth, in addition to giving the face a more natural appearance. Baby teeth also help in the development of your child’s clear speech. Healthy primary teeth also encourage proper nutrition since decayed or missing teeth make it more difficult to chew, prompting children to refuse certain foods. Decay and infection in baby teeth may also cause dark spots on permanent teeth that are developing underneath them.
According to the charts used by our West Carson pediatric dentist, the first teeth begin to break through the gums at about 6 months of age. Usually, the first teeth to erupt are the two bottom front teeth, the central incisors. After that, the top four front teeth will emerge and next, usually in pairs, other teeth will slowly begin to fill in – one each side of the upper or lower jaw, until all 20 teeth have come in. By the time your child is 2 ½ to 3 years old, they will have 10 teeth in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw. The full set of primary teeth will be present in your child’s mouth from the age of 2 ½ to 3 years of age to 6 to 7 years of age.
Our West Carson pediatric dentist will explain that a basic rule is that for every 6 months of life, approximately 4 teeth will erupt. Girls are usually ahead of boys when it comes to tooth eruption but by the time your child is 2 to 3, all primary teeth should have erupted. Baby teeth are smaller in size and whiter in color than permanent teeth and lower teeth normally erupt before the upper teeth. Shortly after the age of 4, the jaw and facial bones of your child begin to grow, creating spaces between the primary teeth. This is a completely natural growth process that provides the needed space for their larger permanent teeth to emerge. Between the ages of 6 and 12, a mixture of both primary and permanent teeth are present in the mouth.