One of the areas of child health that can easily be overlooked and neglected is teething. We all tend to assume we understand well just how teeth develop, when and how many teeth a child should have. Young children usually have milk teeth, also called primary teeth. These teeth are later shed off and are replaced by permanent teeth. The milk teeth start appearing at six months of age, though they may erupt a few months earlier or later. The first milk teeth to appear is the lower front tooth called the lower central incisor. All the milk teeth erupt by three years of age. The milk teeth are shed from six years onwards till about ten years of age. The emergence of permanent teeth wears off the roots of the milk teeth, which lose their support in the bone and become mobile. The milk teeth are ultimately shed off and replaced by the permanent teeth. Milk teeth usually have spaces between them, which later help in accommodating the bigger permanent teeth. While most of the permanent teeth erupt by 12 years of age, the third molars or the wisdom teeth erupt any time between 18 -25 years. Some children develop an extra tooth or teeth, called supernumerary teeth, which often upset the normal dental balance. They are usually treated by extraction.
Prevention of dental problems should ideally start during pregnancy. The pregnant woman should have wholesome and nutritious diet rich in calcium to ensure the healthy development of the baby’s bones and teeth.
Good sources of calcium are cheese, milk, yogurt, leafy vegetables and dairy products. Good diet during pregnancy ensures healthy teeth and bones in the child. It is a good idea to consult the dentist by six months of age when the first milk teeth are expected to emerge into the oral cavity. Regular visits to the dentist, every six months, will help in giving adequate preventive care to the child that will aid in preventing dental decay. If there are any cavities, it is good to undertake the treatment at an early stage. These regular visits are advised even if you think the baby’s teeth are healthy.