The Sunday News
GREETINGS Health Promotion column readers. Over the next few weeks I will write articles mainly about children and their dental care.Today’s article will focus mainly on the eruption age (when they become visible in the mouth), shedding (when they are lost) and their appropriate dental care.
Deciduous teeth are now more commonly known as primary teeth, baby teeth, temporary teeth or milk teeth. They develop during the embryo phase of pregnancy and erupt during infancy. They are usually lost and replaced by permanent teeth, but in the absence of permanent replacements, they can remain functional for many years.
There are 20 primary teeth,10 teeth in each jaw. I will name and describe briefly each tooth and its function:
Incisor: The incisors are small, almost square teeth from each jaw (often referred to as people as “rabbit teeth”). Their function is biting. Each jaw has four of these, making them a total of eight for the whole mouth.
Canine: They also called cuspids, dog teeth or fangs. They are relatively long, pointed teeth. However, they can appear more flattened, causing them to resemble incisors. They are used primarily for firmly holding food in order to tear it apart. Each jaw has two making them a total of four for the whole mouth.
Premolar: The premolar teeth, or bicuspids, are transitional teeth located between the canine and molar teeth. In humans, there are four premolars per jaw in the permanent set of teeth, making eight premolars total in the mouth and none in the primary teeth set. Premolars can be considered as ‘‘transitional teeth’’ during chewing.
Molar: The molar teeth are large, flat teeth at the back of the mouth.They are used primarily to grind food during chewing.
Molars show a great deal of diversity in size.There are six molars in the permanent teeth and four primary teeth set per a jaw making a total of 12 in permanent set of teeth and eight in the primary set of teeth molars for the whole mouth.
Wisdom teeth: A wisdom tooth or third molar is one of the six molars per jaw. Wisdom teeth generally erupt between the ages of 17 and 25.
Care of Primary teeth
When the teeth first erupt some babies may have sore or tender gums. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean finger, a small, cool spoon or a wet gauze pad can be soothing. You can also give the baby a clean teething ring to chew on. If your child is still cranky and in pain, consult your dentist.
Primary teeth are very important to your child’s health and development. They help him or her chew, speak and smile. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums. When a primary tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other permanent teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth and smile for decades to come.
When should my child’s first dental visit be?
After the first tooth comes in and no later than the first birthday. A dental visit at an early age is a check-up for the teeth.
Besides checking for cavities and other problems, the dentist can show you how to clean the child’s teeth properly.
It’s important to care for your baby’s teeth from the start. Here’s what to do:
n Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. As soon as teeth appear, decay can occur. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about six months of age, although some children don’t have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months.
n For children younger than three years, start brushing their teeth as soon as they begin to come into the mouth using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush teeth thoroughly but not too hard twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist. Supervise children’s brushing to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
For children three to six years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Brush teeth thoroughly twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist. Supervise children’s brushing and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
Until you’re comfortable that your child can brush