Have you ever wondered when a parent should start taking care of their baby’s oral health?
It is a little-known fact that human teeth are actually formed inside the womb during pregnancy. When a fetus reaches nine weeks of gestation, ten tiny previously formed tooth buds develop within each band of gum. Thereafter, these tooth buds transform into twenty “baby teeth” that eventually fall out during childhood. After birth, baby teeth development persists inside the maxillary bones and this process continues until their peak growth status is attained.
So, when should a concerned parent start caring about their baby’s oral health?
Ideally, parents are well-advised to clean their baby’s gums at least once a day, after they breastfeed or drink their bottle of baby formula. This helps infants become accustomed to having their mouth cleaned while promoting optimal gum development; preparing them for the arrival of baby teeth.
In general, baby teeth will erupt when an infant is around six months old, with some exceptions. As soon as the first tooth becomes apparent in the infant’s mouth, it should be cleaned at least once a day with a baby toothbrush or a wet towel, especially at night time. It is good to note that toothpaste is not required at this stage. The most noteworthy consideration is to ensure the removal of biofilm from the infant’s teeth, better known as dental plaque.
Even if cavities are a multifactorial condition, most of the time, biofilm is the main cause of their development. Cavities form due to food and bacteria; breast milk and baby formula are cariogenic as are other liquids that contain sugar or acidic ph levels.
When considering how to promote the proper development of healthy baby teeth, it is highly recommended to avoid giving them flavored milk or juices. Regardless of whether milk is regular cow’s milk, almond, soy, rice, hazelnut, coconut milk, or whether the juice is mass-produced or homemade, infants should refrain from their consumption. On the contrary, the sooner an infant tastes fluids or food with high or added sugar content, the greater the challenge will become to keep them away from their consumption in the future.
Sadly, for children under five years old, dental cavities remain the number one reason for dentist visits. During visits, they are required to undergo general anesthesia. Only then can a dentist repair the affected cavities, due mainly to a lack of oral hygiene and high sugar intake abundant within the North American diet.
At around two years old, a toddler will have at least eight teeth in their mouth, four on the top front and four on the bottom front. These first-forming teeth are called incisors. Not only are they responsible for cutting food, but they also help infants pronounce the sound of certain letters when they start to speak. As such, the proper development and growth of baby teeth have important roles to play on many levels.
Obviously, properly developed healthy teeth help a baby eat properly, chew and digest food. In addition, they also promote the evolution and growth of maxillary bones, as well as optimal language development.
Unfortunately, many new parents underestimate the importance of primary dentition. This is a fundamental factor of a baby’s facial development, needed during the course of their entire childhood, and for some children, even part of adolescence.
Dentists Sur Drummond recently had the privilege of providing BeBaby, North America’s premier parents support organization, with the following vitally important information concerning baby teeth origins and their healthy development.
On behalf of Dentists Sur Drummond, I sincerely hope that the information contained in this article will help parents gain a better understanding of the key factors involved with the care and development of their infant’s oral health.
– Maria Alejandra Marcano, Dental Hygienist, Dentists Sur Drummond