Your memories of childhood regarding the loss of your own baby teeth may be cloudy. Although you know they were lost, you may be unsure when it happened. Were you two years old, or four years, or six or nine? Or was it later than that?
Normally, the first teeth children lose are the baby front teeth and this occurs about six or seven years old. From this age until your child reaches about age 13, the remaining baby teeth will be lost and replaced by the adult teeth. The final baby teeth are lost when the baby second molars are replaced by the permanent second bicuspids.
There is a pattern of loss that primary teeth follow to ensure the adult teeth come in the most favourable position. If one or more baby teeth are lost too early, it can delay or dramatically affect the position of adult teeth and braces may be needed to correct this.
Sometimes, however, baby teeth do not fall out (exfoliate). This may be a result of several conditions. There may be no adult tooth ready to replace the baby tooth. A misguided successor tooth may be disrupting the process - this often occurs when your child's teeth are crowded. Lastly, the root of your child's baby tooth may be attached to the bone itself, a problem called ankylosis.
It is important all children have a complete dental examination at an early age to confirm that all adult teeth are present. If an adult tooth is missing or will be delayed, you can learn the options available to ensure the best care of your child's dental condition.
Baby teeth, like adult teeth, can develop cavities. If left untreated long enough, this can lead to a life-threatening infection. For a cavity to develop in children or adults, three factors must be present.
Once these sugars are digested by the bacteria, acids form and cause the decay of the tooth. It is only in the earliest stages of cavity formation that the process can be reversed with fluoride. Once the outer surface of the tooth breaks down the cavity will not go away. It will only worsen.
The decay continues until the cavity reaches the nerve (pulp) which is found in all teeth. Once there, the nerve becomes infected and dies. This is of great concern because the infection can spread throughout the body and cause a life-threatening infection.
If you notice your child has any swelling in the mouth or difficulty with breathing or swallowing, it is extremely important that you consult a dentist or medical doctor as soon as possible. The swelling may be an indication of a life-threatening infection caused by an advanced dental cavity.
Children who develop cavities experience pain but they may not have the right words to tell you. Restless nights, weight loss and a poor disposition are often indications that your child has a cavity needing treatment. It is important to consult a dentist if you suspect this is the case. Also, if you notice any discolouration of your child's teeth, check with your dentist. This may be an indication of a problem with the teeth.
Baby teeth have an important role to help guide adult teeth into their correct positions. When these first teeth are maintained well and kept in their position for the appropriate length of time, adult teeth are able to follow properly. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, several problems can occur. These may include: