Teething is an important rite of passage for every child, and new baby teeth certainly make for cute pictures (check out our Baby Smiles Calendar for a few examples)! But how much do you really know about them?
The Importance of Baby Teething
Also known as primary teeth, the medical term for these early choppers is “deciduous teeth.”
In almost all European languages, a child’s first teeth are known as “milk teeth,” while in some Asian countries, they are known as “fall teeth” because they eventually fall out.
While adult smiles feature 32 permanent teeth, only 20 come in during teething. These baby teeth begin to emerge when an infant is between 6 and 12 months old, though development begins in the womb. The front teeth come in first, followed a few months later by molars and canines.
We begin to lose our primary teeth at around age 6, when our permanent teeth start pushing them out. Usually, adult teeth have fully erupted by age 12. In the case of missing permanent teeth, a baby tooth can stay viable for many years in its place.
However, baby teeth aren’t only there as placeholders – they serve a vital purpose in the development of a child’s mouth. They also act as guides for the developing permanent teeth, help shape the formation of the muscles and bone of the jaw, and are necessary for the development of a child’s speech.
Baby teeth are also much whiter than permanent teeth. Our adult teeth have more dentin, which is naturally yellowish and shows through the translucent enamel more clearly. In fact, this may be the reason for the term “milk teeth” – because baby teeth are as white as milk.
Take good care of your little ones’ teeth, and you’ll protect their smiles for a lifetime. Want to learn more? Read our posts about oral care for infants and children and how to prepare for the first visit to the dentist.
Send us a cute picture of your baby’s first teeth and we’ll post it on our Facebook page!
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