Oh, baby! An essential primer on those tiny teeth

May 30, 2024

Baby teeth. They’re adorable, sometimes painful, and apparently worth at least a few dollars each time one falls out! As our family dentist at Maria E. Acebo, DDS knows well, the importance of these tiny wonders, and the traditions that have grown up around them, are well worth exploring. 

If you’re curious about when the tooth fairy first made its appearance, the name was originally coined in the early 20th century, although the tradition of rewarding a child for a lost baby tooth dates back at least as far as 17th century Europe. And, in case you’re wondering, besides humans, most mammals have two sets of teeth in their lifetime, including apes, cats and dogs.

Why are children’s baby teeth necessary, you may ask. Why can’t we just be born with one set of permanent teeth? For some very important reasons!

  • Baby teeth allow children to learn how to chew, helping them to transition from a milk-based diet to eating more solid foods, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  • Baby teeth act as placeholders for permanent teeth, helping to guide them into their proper positions as they erupt. This also aids in jaw development.
  • The proper placement of baby teeth helps children begin to form sounds and develop clear patterns of speech.

Even before your child’s teeth erupt, you can gently clean their gums with a damp washcloth. Once the teeth begin emerging, it’s time to use a soft-bristled infant toothbrush with water or a fluoride-free toothpaste. Promote a nutritious diet and limit sugary drinks to keep those baby teeth healthy.

When should you schedule your child’s first trip to the dentist? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends making a dental visit by the child's first birthday. 

Your family dentist at Maria E. Acebo, DDS knows that it’s never too early to start good oral hygiene habits! Please contact us if you have any questions or to schedule a visit.

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