A baby is usually born with no visible teeth in its mouth. However, there are 20 fully formed primary teeth or milk teeth lying underneath the gums in a newborn baby. These teeth develop at around two years of age. Eventually, they loosen and fall out between the ages of 6 to 10 years to give way to adult teeth.

Though they are not born with any teeth, babies’ teeth begin to develop before birth. But in most cases, they do not come through until they are between 6 and 12 months old.

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After which, most children will have a complete set of 20 milk or baby teeth by the time they are three years old. It is the period when they start to eat solid food. Hence teeth are required to chew the solid food. By the time they reach 5 or 6, these teeth will start to fall out, making way for adult teeth.

Read more about baby teeth and how you can tell if a baby is teething.

What are Milk Teeth?

Milk teeth emerge through a baby’s gums during the first two years of life. By the time the infant is around 2.5 to 3.0 years, all 20 of their milk teeth should have fully emerged.

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An infant’s milk teeth usually emerge in the following sequence:

  • The baby’s four front teeth, the central incisors, are the first teeth that emerge. Two teeth in each of the upper and lower jaw and these four teeth start to appear as early as six months after the childbirth.
  • Next, the kid’s two lateral incisors in the upper and lower jaws start to grow alongside the central incisors. By the time the child reaches 15 months, your child usually has a full set of eight incisors. These are the biting or cutting teeth.
  • Following this, your child’s first molars appear, which helps them grind food. Two first molar teeth in each jaw emerge. These molars are positioned one space away from the incisors to make room for the canines which would grow in-between. Your child’s first molars should have developed by around the age of 19 months.
  • The canine or cuspid teeth follow after the first molar. Two usually appear in each jaw by the age your child reaches 23 months. Your child will use these teeth for tearing and will allow your baby to manage more textured foods.
  • Finally, your child’s second molars appear, again two on the upper jaw and two on the lower jaw. These second molars complete the set of 20 milk teeth at around the age of 27 months.

When Do Children Lose Their Milk Teeth?

Many parents are curious to know when their children will start losing their baby teeth. Erupting permanent teeth in the gums often causes the roots of baby teeth to be reabsorbed. 

As a result, by the time they are loose, there is little holding them in place besides only a small amount of tissue. It is then when that the milk teeth start to fall off – most children lose their baby teeth in a particular order. 

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Your baby’s teeth ordinarily start to shed first at age 6 when the incisors, the middle teeth in front, become loose. The four molars in the back usually start to shed between ages 10 and 12. Molars are replaced with permanent teeth by about age 13. By this age, your child will have all their permanent teeth in place.

When the teeth loosen, children usually wiggle their teeth loose with their fingers or tongues, eager to hide them under their pillow for the “tooth fairy”. 

If you want to pull out the already loose tooth, grasp it firmly with a piece of gauze or tissue and remove it with a quick twist. Occasionally, in case a primary tooth is not loosening sufficiently on its own, you may need to take your child to your pediatric dentist, who might assist you in extracting it.

If your child loses their baby teeth by accident or decays too early, his permanent teeth might erupt prematurely and come crooked because of limited space. According to orthodontists, 30 percent of such cases have their origins in the premature loss of baby teeth.

General Timeline for Milk Tooth Development

The pattern in which milk teeth will emerge in your child can vary from baby to baby, but in general, the following timeline applies:

  • At around 15 months, eight teeth are present.
  • At about 19 months, 12 teeth are present.
  • When 23 months, 16 teeth are present.
  • At around 27 months, 20 teeth are present.

Once your infant’s set of primary teeth is complete, the jaws of the baby slowly grow to make room for the permanent teeth. Permanent teeth will begin to appear at around six years of age.

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Once all the milk teeth have grown, these milk teeth then begin to shed over the next six years. They are finally replaced by a full set of permanent teeth by around the age of 12 years.

Adult teeth

By the age a child becomes 12 to 14 years, most of them have lost all their baby teeth and adult teeth.

There are 32 adult teeth in total in a human mouth – 12 more than in the baby set. The last 4 of these, at the four corners, are called wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth usually emerge later than the others, generally between the ages of 17 and 21.

Wisdom teeth generally erupt after 17 years. In most cases, they do not come through properly or at all. In many, it can be painful and hence wisdom teeth removal becomes necessary. 

If your wisdom teeth are hurting, it could simply be because they are growing inside your gums. Such ones are called impacted wisdom teeth and might lead to wisdom tooth pain. When they try to break through the gums, it can cause pain, slight swelling, and other complications. 

It is best to visit your doctor if you find any such problems with your wisdom teeth. In case of impacted wisdom teeth, your doctor might suggest a wisdom tooth removal to relieve the pain, swelling, and infection.

Caring for Milk Teeth

Although your infant’s milk teeth are temporary, they still need to be kept free of tooth decay and require careful maintenance. Decay can occur very early on in your baby’s life. Milk teeth are more prone to tooth decay. It is also referred to as “baby bottle tooth decay” or “nursing mouth syndrome.” The condition will often occur if your baby’s teeth are frequently exposed to sugary liquids for prolonged periods.

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Ways to prevent milk tooth decay in infants are similar to those for preventing adult tooth decay. They include maintaining good oral hygiene. Moreover, your infant or child should not fall asleep with a bottle containing formula (formula milk), fruit juices, or sweetened liquids. These can be very harmful and are the most common cause of tooth decay in infants.

Healthy milk teeth will help your child to eat, chew and speak normally. In contrast, decayed teeth can hamper your child’s ability to eat normally, therefore affecting growth and development. In addition, a decayed primary tooth can lead to an infection that may damage the permanent tooth growing underneath.

Why Is It Important to Care for Baby Teeth?

While it is true that baby teeth are only in the mouth for a short period, they play a vital role. Hence you need to take care of your baby teeth.

  • As milk teeth reserve space for their permanent counterparts.
  • Give the child’s face its normal appearance.
  • Aids in the development of clear speech in your baby.
  • Help attain good nutrition as missing or decayed teeth could make it difficult to chew, causing your child to reject foods. 
  • Baby teeth help give a healthy start to permanent teeth. Any kind of decay and infection in baby teeth can cause damage to the permanent teeth developing beneath them. 

As a parent, you need to understand the problems that decaying baby teeth might cause in permanent teeth. You should take your children to the dentist by the age of 1 or within six months after their first tooth comes in.

Brushing and Flossing Milk Teeth

Your kid may need some help while brushing until he is between ages 7 and 10. Even if their intentions are good, they may not have the know-how to clean their teeth well. 

Ideally, the teeth should be brushed within five minutes to ten minutes just after eating your meal. Also, for long-term dental health, your child should take care of their gums as well. He should also be taught to floss regularly, preferably once a day. Dental flossing helps prevent gum (or periodontal) disease in adulthood.

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In addition, a tartar-control toothpaste can help keep plaque from adhering to your kid’s teeth. The fluoride in the toothpaste can help prevent cavities and strengthen the exposed outer enamel of the youngster’s teeth.

Fluoride is so good for your teeth, and hence it should be added to the water supply in many cities. If your tap water at home has less than the recommended levels of this nutrient, your pediatrician might suggest that you add fluoride to your child’s diet beginning at age 6 months. Else you can also get fluoride as part of a vitamin supplement. Your pediatric dentist will suggest that fluoride treatment should continue until the age 16. Ask your dentist or doctor for guidance.

Milk Teeth Dental Checkups

Make sure your youngster gets dental checkups twice a year for cleaning, as well as for X-rays if recommended by your pediatric dentist Dubai. Parents might choose to utilize a periodontist or a pediatric dentist, a dentist with special interest and expertise in children’s dentistry. 

Regular preventive appointments can significantly decrease your kid’s chances of undergoing major dental treatment. You should also contact your dentist whenever your child is complaining of a toothache. This tooth pain could be a sign and symptom of a decayed tooth. Until the dentist can examine your child, they cannot treat pain.