This is my first post where I would talk about what I have studied long and hard in college… TEETH! Yes, I am dentist by “profession” and have not been very active in the past years because I was busy raising a family. I have put my private practice on the sidelines and kept it on appointment basis only.
Most of the patients I see are kids, majority are kids’ friends and they often go to me to have their kids’ “baby tooth” pulled. The reason for taking out the tooth is because it has a cavity, infected or loose. But taking out the tooth would not always be the best option.
As a mom, we get excited when we see a glimpse of our babies’ first tooth which is about at 6 months of age. Our toddler’s teeth would have completed eruption at age 2 to 3.
Some parents neglect the importance of these first set of teeth or “milk teeth”, “baby teeth”, “temporary teeth” or in dental terms, primary or deciduous teeth. One of the most common notion they have is that these teeth are temporary, will shed off and it’s okay to pull it out. This is partly true. Yes, these milk teeth will shed and the permanent teeth would erupt soon. But we don’t just take them out at will.
The primary teeth are there for a very important reason and that is to serve as guide for the erupting permanent tooth. Since the permanent tooth will be taking the space occupied by the temporary teeth, the new tooth coming needs to be guided by the temporary tooth. For example, when the primary incisor starts to wiggle, it means that the permanent tooth, which is hidden under the gums and bones are already forming. As soon as they are ready to come out, they (permanent tooth) will push the primary tooth out of its place and would occupy the same space. If we pull out the primary teeth carelessly without considering the time the age of eruption,, the new tooth coming out will have no guide at all. That tooth would be lost, it doesn’t know where to go which could lead to crowding of permanent teeth.
Another importance of the preserving the milk teeth and keeping it healthy is because the succeeding permanent may have discolorations or dark spots on it when it erupts because it’s predecessor was unhealthy or decayed.
Even though these primary teeth will not last long, it’s still necessary to practice good oral hygiene at an early age to prevent cavities or tooth infection and this practice would be carried on by the child hopefully when he or she grows up.
I have included charts of age of tooth eruption to serve as guide for you and your kids. Don’t worry if your child is already 7 years old and there are no permanent molars yet. Again, this varies from child to child. When Coby was born, he had his first tooth at 4/12 months and his permanent tooth at 5 1/2. While Jianne, had her first molars much later.