Children get their first teeth at about 6 months of age. Usually, the first teeth to erupt are the lower front teeth. By about age 2, children have developed their full complement of 20 primary (baby) teeth. All these teeth will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth, and when a person reaches adulthood, he or she may have up to 32 teeth altogether.
A common misconception is that since baby teeth are eventually going to fall out, they are thought of as expendable or unimportant. This is not the case at all.For more information or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lam, please call our office in Florham Park, NJ at Florham Park Office Phone Number 973-295-6600.
First of all, dental decay in teeth is an infectious process which if left untreated can put the childs general health at risk. A simple cavity on a lower molar, for instance, can lead to swelling into the throat and cause the child to have trouble breathing! An infected upper molar can lead to swelling so severe that the childs eye can be swollen shut.
Secondly, teeth do not fall out at the same time. In fact, although the first baby tooth often falls out at around age 6, the last tooth to fall out may not happen until after the age of 12! As long as an infected or decayed tooth is present in the mouth, this infection can potentially spread to other healthy baby teeth, and even to the developing permanent teeth.
In addition, many baby teeth hold space for the permanent teeth which eventually take their place. Cavities are often noticed by parents as a hole or a chip in a tooth. This is because the decay process can literally cause teeth to break down and fall apart. Each time a piece of tooth breaks down, the tooth can no longer hold space as effectively. This may not seem important now, but with time so much space is lost that the permanent teeth do not have enough space to grow in properly. The end result may be severe crowding. Sometimes there is so much space lost due to decay that the permanent teeth become impacted or cannot grow in at all. At this point, your child may need additional orthodontic or surgical procedures to correct the problems. Many dental problems are preventable. With proper treatment and guidance from your pediatric dentist, everyone can work together to help avoid unnecessary cost and treatment in the future.