The primary teeth are the teeth that babies are born with and continue to develop in the first few years of life. Though these teeth eventually fall out to make room for permanent teeth, primary teeth serve many important purposes. Not only are they essential to a child’s physical development, but they also contribute to a child’s social and emotional development. Dentists recommend caring for primary teeth with the same efficiency as permanent teeth.
Did you know…
that a child’s primary teeth begin to form in the first few weeks of gestation? The first primary teeth – the central incisors – are fully calcified and ready to emerge just a few short months after birth. Additional primary teeth will continue to cut through the gums until the average child has 20 teeth by age 3. These primary teeth remain in place until they are gradually lost, usually between ages 6 and 12.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the functions of primary teeth?
‘Baby’ teeth allow a child to:
- Learn how to chew properly
- Develop clear speech
- Build self-esteem that comes from an attractive smile
If my child’s primary teeth fall out or need to be extracted prematurely, will it affect his or her long-term oral health?
Possibly. The primary teeth serve another purpose: they are space-savers. As the jaw grows, permanent teeth develop beneath the surface of the gums. Primary teeth are space holders for these adult teeth, remaining in place until the permanent teeth are ready to emerge. Primary teeth that fall out too soon can cause crowding and alignment issues in the future. If your child’s teeth need to be pulled early – perhaps due to decay or injury – speak with your dentist about a dental spacer and whether it’s right for your child.
How should I care for my child’s primary teeth?
A lifetime of good oral care begins during the earliest years. While your child is an infant, clean the gums gently each day with a clean, damp cloth. Begin brushing the teeth as they emerge, and schedule the first appointment with a dentist before your child’s first birthday.