Pediatric Dentistry

What is Teething?

Teething refers to the process of new teeth rising or erupting through the gums. It can begin in infants as young as 2 months of age, even though the first tooth usually does not appear until about age 6 months of age. Some dentists have noted a family pattern of “early,” “average,” or “late” teethers. Usually, the first tooth to erupt is one of the lower, central incisors. Some children will have a pattern of serial eruption of their teeth. Others will have multiple dental eruptions at the same time. As the tooth penetrates the gums, the area may appear slightly red or swollen over the tooth. Sometimes a fluid-filled area similar to a “blood blister” may be seen over the erupting tooth.

Some teeth may be more sensitive than others when they erupt. The first tooth to erupt may be the most sensitive. Sometimes, the larger molars cause more discomfort due to their larger surface area that can’t “slice” through the gum tissue as an erupting incisor is capable of doing.

Many children have little or no problem with teething, while others may have significant discomfort. Usually, the pain with teething comes and goes and may seem to ease after several minutes.

When To Seek Medical Care:

Because teething is so common and other symptoms such as fever, fussiness, colds, and diarrhea are also common, both conditions may often occur at the same time. Teething may not be causing these symptoms. Other illnesses or disorders (for example, viral infections) are much more likely to be causing fever, fussiness, nasal congestion with cough, and diarrhea. It is important to contact your doctor if these or other symptoms seem concerning to you. Do not assume that they are just from the teething. Teething should not require emergency care. If there is concern that something other than teething may be causing symptoms, contact your health-care provider.

What are Baby Teeth?

Baby teeth are the primary teeth that appear within your child’s mouth from around the age of six months old. Although only a temporary factor in the long term composition of your baby’s mouth, they are never the less, an important stage in the growth of the child and as such, proper oral hygiene should be maintained from the moment they appear. Not only will this serve to keep the child’s mouth healthy from the off set, and therefore minimize any risk of problems to the gums later on, it also allows the child to learn from the youngest age, the importance and regularity with which oral hygiene should be approached.

It is important for the parent to be aware of the importance of their child’s primary teeth and to appreciate the consequences of not implementing rigorous hygiene from the very beginning. Baby teeth are not immune to tooth decay and in spite of their temporary nature, they are of fundamental importance in the health and development of the surrounding gum and permanent teeth.

At age six most children have ample dexterity to start developing responsibility for his or her own oral hygiene, nonetheless, parents should check behind their child’s effort. At age six, generally baby teeth start to be lost and replaced by erupting adult teeth. The exfoliation of baby teeth progresses throughout the life of a child until about age 13 when usually all of the baby teeth have been lost and replaced by adult teeth. Baby teeth serve many important functions for a developing child: chewing function and efficiency, appearance and self esteem, speech, enunciation and language development, and they hold a space in the mouth for the subsequent eruption of eventual adult teeth.

Primary teeth essentially allow the adult teeth to find their way through the gum in the correct fashion, and as such, act as a guide for the final development of the mouth. For this reason, the importance of the care and upkeep of baby teeth should not be overlooked.