By Dr. Ryan Roberts
Q: Why does my child have gaps between her baby teeth?
A: Understandably, mothers want their children’s teeth to be pretty and straight.
But gaps between baby teeth are actually good. That means your child will have room for her bigger permanent teeth to come in properly without crowding.
Q: Why does my child only have two teeth? His friend is the same age and he’s got five teeth. What’s wrong?
A: In all likelihood, nothing is wrong.
There are age ranges when kids’ baby teeth fall out and permanent teeth come in, rather than a specific age. So it’s different for every child – even different for each child in a family.
Q: In what order do the permanent teeth come in? Do the bottom front teeth come in first? Or is it the top two in the front?
A: The first permanent teeth usually come in between the ages of six and seven. For that reason, they often are called the “six-year molars.”
The six-year molars are in the very back, behind all the baby teeth, so a baby tooth is not lost in order for them to come in.
Then comes the bottom two teeth in front – the lower front incisors – and then the upper incisors.
Then it’s the back teeth (pre-molars/molars) and the canines. The canines or cuspids are the eye teeth – they’re on the corners.
Q: Why worry about baby teeth? They are just going to fall out anyway.
A: You should be concerned about the health of your child’s baby teeth for a couple of reasons.
First, if baby teeth have disease or cavities, they can cause the child pain, infection, loss of function – in other words, the child is not able to eat well and gain the proper nutrition.
Also, problems with baby teeth can lead to problems with permanent teeth.
When cavities in baby teeth are left untreated, permanent teeth entering that environment are prone to the same thing – cavities, decay, pain, loss of function.
Baby teeth also serve another important purpose – they save space for the child’s future permanent teeth. If the baby teeth aren’t there, there can be problems, because the permanent teeth don’t know where to go.
That’s why it’s just as important to take care of baby teeth as it is to maintain healthy permanent teeth. We can easily avoid problems by starting preventive care at first tooth / first birthday.
Q: My child’s front teeth are coming in behind their baby teeth. Should I be concerned?
A: It’s normal for the permanent teeth to come in behind baby teeth, especially the ones on the bottom.
Most of the time, the baby teeth will fall out on their own, and the tongue will push those permanent teeth forward into their proper position.
If the child is having a hard time losing the teeth on the front on the bottom, then we can take those baby teeth out for them.
We see this a lot, and it’s usually nothing to be concerned about. The best thing to do is bring your child in and let us take a look.
If you have any questions, always consult your pediatric dentist.
About the author: Ryan Roberts, DDS, MS is a pediatric dentist with a passion for working with children – from infants to the teen years – at On the Cusp Pediatric Dentistry in Bixby.