As the primary teeth, also known as baby teeth are temporary, many believe that taking care of them is less important than it is for permanent teeth. This is a big mistake. 

First, let’s take a look at when teeth normally appear and fall out: 

Teeth They grow They fall
2 lower middle incisors Between 6 and 8 months  Around 6 years 
2 upper middle incisors  Between 8 and 10 months  Around 6 1/2 years 
2 upper lateral incisors  Between 10 and 12 months  Around 7 years 
2 lower lateral incisors  Between 12 and 14 months  Around 7 1/2 years 
First 2 upper and lower molars  Between 12 and 18 months  Around 12 years 
First 2 upper and lower canines  Between 12 and 24 months  Around 11 years 
Two second upper and lower molars  Between 24 and 30 months  Around 13 years 
8 permanent molars  Between 6 and 13 years   
4 wisdom teeth  From 18 years   

The arrival of primary teeth is usually painful, while the arrival of their successors is painless because the path through the bone has already been made by the previous teeth – except for wisdom teeth which can cause problems if they do not have the necessary space. As the permanent teeth arrive by pushing the primary teeth out, they are in contact with the root. In addition, the primary teeth are innervated and vascularized which means that an infection on a “temporary” tooth can affect the entire system including the germ of the permanent tooth that is being formed. Untreated cavities can affect the nerve of the permanent tooth and weakening it. It can also eat into the permanent tooth, which means that the space occupied by the tooth will be incorrect with possible orthodontic problems down the line. It is therefore essential to clean primary teeth even if they give up their place to permanent teeth eventually. 

At what age can you start to clean teeth? Well, as soon as they appear. When dealing with an infant, a toothbrush is not the appropriate tool; a tissue or cotton ball with water will suffice for the first cleanings. But be careful to holding it tight. Once the cleaning is done, avoid feeding the baby immediately. Otherwise, the cleaning will need to be done over. 

Also, one of the best ways to lower the risk of cavities in babies is to limit sugars in the diet. In a previous article, we saw that cavities are the result of acids that attack tooth enamel. These acids are produced by bacteria in the mouth and they feed on sugar. These bacteria may be coming from the mother. It is therefore important for moms to have impeccable oral hygiene and make a regular visit to her dentist to make sure everything is under control (and if need be, to make the necessary adjustments in order to avoid transmitting a potential problem to the baby). 

Once the child is a little older, a minimum of two cleanings daily is essential in addition to flossing. Brushing before bedtime is especially important to prevent the child going to sleep with food residue in his/her mouth that may feed the bacteria that produce acid overnight. Also, from 3 years on, a visit to your dentist at Sky Harbour Dental is recommended. As they say: prevention is better than cure!