Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
When people become parents, they begin an ongoing learning process; in fact, they may be overwhelmed by concerns about the fetus’ development in the womb, the eventual birth, and different stages of growth. One of the topics they consult frequently about is the teething of children, like how baby teeth erupt and fall out.
In general, the teething process occurs twice in the course of life. The first dentition is called deciduous or is commonly known as milk dentition, which begins in the first months of life. Later, the milk teeth are replaced by permanent teeth since they move and fall out. In both cases, a series of changes arise in the structures of the teeth; for this reason, it is important to know the changes that occur to detect when an alteration occurs.
What are milk teeth and how are they formed?
When we are born, all the organs of the body are ready to function independently; however, the teeth are not ready yet, and some problems may arise. But these do not become evident until 6 months of life when the teething process begins.
Tooth formation and eruption is a physiological process that is part of the growth of all human beings. The baby teeth begin to form from pregnancy, approximately in the sixth week of gestation, and it goes until approximately 17 to 21 years when the third molars or wisdom teeth erupt.
Before a baby’s teeth emerge, the fetus must go through some stages of formation in the mother’s womb. The crown is formed first and then the root or radicular portion, which is anchored to the jaw. After birth, our baby teeth have already formed; however, it is not until approximately 6 months that they begin to emerge, first the lower front teeth and after that the upper front teeth. After this, about every 6 months, other teeth emerge until reaching 20 teeth (10 in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower jaw), completing the process of the eruption of milk or primary teeth at around 3 years of age.
When and how baby teeth erupt and fall Out
The loss of the first milk teeth usually occurs around 5 or 6 years of age, initiating a substitution sequence where the first to come out is the first to shed or fall out, starting with the two lower central ones and continuing with the two upper ones central. This process ends approximately between 12 or 13 years of age, completing the change of all milk teeth.
When baby teeth fall out, it is called dental exfoliation. It is the process that milk teeth go through when the permanent tooth reabsorbs the root of the milk tooth. This reabsorption occurs thanks to the fact that the permanent teeth release cells that will cause the progressive loss of the root of the milk tooth, thus causing their mobility. Since they do not have a root, they will not have support inside the bone, causing them to become loose and can fall out easily.
Sometimes, this process does not occur in this way, which leads to milk teeth remaining in place, preventing the eruption of permanent teeth. In other cases, it may be that the permanent teeth can erupt, but being located in another position, they generate a dental malocclusion. For these reasons, it is necessary from the first symptoms indicating the eruption of the first milk teeth that periodic dental check-ups are scheduled – preferably with a pediatric dentist.
What should be done when a tooth begins to move?
It is advisable not to force a loose too much, since the time that passes from when it starts to move and until it falls out can be quite long. Sudden movements can damage the permanent tooth or gums. Do not push it with your tongue or move it with your other teeth to force it to fall out.
When you notice a lot of movement, and it bothers you when talking or eating, it is possible to remove it yourself, as long as it doesn’t hurt to move it. Children may experience some pain when extracting the tooth about to fall out; they may also experience discomfort. Swishing salt water or applying a cool, wet washcloth can help improve the symptoms and stop any bleeding.
When are permanent teeth positioned and what is the difference?
The eruption of permanent teeth is a process that develops around 6 years of age. It may happen before or after this age and generally, the order in which they emerge is the same order in which the milk teeth came out. After the first loss of the teeth (usually the upper front ones), a progressive sequence is triggered.
One of the big differences between permanent and milk teeth is the number, since permanent teeth total 32. This makes the space between them a little smaller. Additionally, the color also changes in reference to milk teeth, which are whiter. This difference in color is because the enamel of milk teeth is thinner than that of permanent teeth. Likewise, the roots of milk teeth are thinner and shorter, compared to the roots of permanent teeth. Milk teeth are designed to fall out, while the permanent ones are not.
After the age of 4, the jaw and bones of a child begin to grow, making the spaces of the primary teeth larger to give rise to the permanent teeth. Since they are larger, this separation between the teeth is reduced until it is no longer visible. However, this can lead to larger spaces, not well-positioned teeth, or not enough space. They are thus located as they can, generating crowding and crooked teeth. On some occasions when the child continues his or her growth stage, the development of the jaw ends, improving the alignment of the teeth.
Permanent teeth can present certain behaviors, such as:
- or every six months of life, approximately 4 teeth erupt.
- Sometimes, girls experience faster tooth loss than boys.
- The lower teeth usually come in before the upper ones.
- The teeth in both jaws usually erupt in pairs: one on the right and one on the left.
In some children, the permanent primary molars are the first to emerge, while in others, the incisors are the first to emerge. At about age 13, most of the teeth, about 28, are already in place. But between the ages of 17 and 21, the wisdom teeth usually erupt.
However, these third molars are not always present in all people; In fact, in some of them, they are completely absent. In other people, the third molars are misplaced at a different angle or simply do not have enough space, causing crowding of the teeth. It is possible that in the face of these complications, there is a need to extract them.
The entire process of eruption of permanent teeth takes about 7 years, during most of which your child will have a mixture of permanent teeth and deciduous teeth (the mixed dentition stage). Once all milk teeth have fallen, we move on to the permanent dentition stage.
What care should I take with permanent teeth?
Practicing good dental hygiene habits from the primary or milk dentition stage is important for the proper development of the teeth so that there are no problems with moving them. Once the milk teeth start falling out, it is important that the child become aware of certain things:
- The child must remember to brush their teeth at least twice a day. It is suggested to reinforce cleaning by the parents.
- Flossing between teeth is vital to minimizing gum disease.
- Healthy eating is low in sugar with little intake of carbonated drinks. A good diet will help prolong good dental health.
- Regular visits to the dentist from the teething stage are key to identifying potential dental problems throughout the entire process of the permanent dental stage.
If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental as well as our page on Facebook. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Newbury Park, and Port Hueneme will be able to guide you toward the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.
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